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This short & informative electronic newsletter is filled with tips for building an effective Union and is published monthly by Janet Stewart.

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Get the discussion going!

How to be a great facilitator

One of the main goals of a group discussion is to allow all Union Members the opportunity to express their opinions and share their concerns in an honest, but safe environment. As the facilitator of that discussion, it is your job to protect the “environment” so that Members will feel secure in sharing their thoughts with others of the group. It is also your job to “direct traffic” and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to participate and contribute.


Here are some tips to keep in mind:


  • Use open-ended questions to get conversations going. These are questions that cannot be answered by a simple yes or no response.
  • Use closed-ended questions (which DO call for yes or no answers) to check for clarification and understanding.
  • Continually scan the group for signs from individuals that they would like to contribute - they may raise a hand or make eye contact with you to indicate that they would like to participate. If the group is large and the comments are long, it may be helpful to write their names down as you acknowledge them so that you don’t forget whose turn is next.
  • If someone has taken a lot of airtime, paraphrase or summarize his/her comments before moving on to the next contributor. This will help to refocus everyone in the group.
  • Use a flip chart or white board to keep track of key points during the discussion. These valuable tools are widely under-utilized in today’s physical & virtual meeting rooms.

Final Thought…


Many ideas that come out of discussions never get implemented because people lose track of their assignments and the tasks that they agreed to do. Follow-up, therefore, is an important role of the facilitator in order to ensure that the decisions and actions agreed to during a discussion are completed as planned.

Remember to PLAN for Success: Prepare - Lead - Assess - Next Steps:



“Members are a Union’s most valuable asset”…they bring to the table, a wealth of knowledge and experience, not only about their current job function(s), but also as a result of all of the other previous positions that they have held inside or outside of the Union, as well as their educational and life experiences.


Effective meetings provide the perfect opportunity to tap into this huge pool of ideas. Make the most of these occasions by designing highly interactive meetings that allow the attendees to fully participate.


Get Members involved in meetings through the facilitation of healthy group discussions!

Download a FREE copy of this article and use it at your next Union meeting!

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