Administrators will no doubt at some stage in their careers be the one leading and facilitating a planning session.

When you’re that person a lot is at stake – mainly credibility.

People, and this could mean your peers, will judge you on how well you planned the meeting, your ability to control it effectively, produce outcomes and manage personalities.

On top of that is the need to ensure that everyone in a meeting feels like they’ve contributed.

Administrators can be involved in many types of projects eg office move, conference, product launch, staff recruitment, Christmas function.

Below is an effective method that you can use to help facilitate an effective planning session.

Resources required

  • Two or three large sheets of flip chart paper
  • Pens (preferably coloured)
  • Post it notes
  • Large table (like the Board room table)
  1. Call a meeting and ensure everyone knows what the objective is. Ideas of what needs to be covered to ensure the effective implementation of the project should be discussed.
  2. Place the flip chart paper and Post It notes on the board table.
  3. Ask everyone to brainstorm all the things they can think of that needs to happen eg for a conference – programme design, sponsorship, risk identification, evaluation method, speakers, budget, topics, travel and accommodation etc. Each topic should be written on a separate Post It note and placed anywhere on the flip chart paper.
  4. Once all the ideas have been captured, arrange the Post It notes in the order of what needs to happen and when.
  5. Allocate the name of the person who’s going to be responsible for that activity.
  6. The activities can then be typed into a spreadsheet with the activities listed in the rows and a timeframe for completion in the columns.

The reasons behind this method?

Too many times I’ve seen planning sessions go astray due to an over-zealous facilitator who controls and leads the discussion to where they want it to go.

This method allows the facilitator to step back. That way those who are going to do the work feel included in the actual planning and will more likely take ownership of the work.

The facilitator’s role is minimised

The alternative to the above method, which I still see a lot, is planning on a whiteboard.

This has its disadvantages.

You can only go so far with writing things on a whiteboard. After that it becomes difficult to move the items around, not like with using Post-it notes.

Also have you ever noticed when someone is recording ideas from people like in a brainstorming session in front of a whiteboard that whoever has the pen has the power ie the facilitator can dismiss or evaluate that person’s idea and choose not to write it down.

This can make the person who gave the idea feel that their idea was not worthy and may decide not to participate further. With the Post It note method everyone is involved, people feel included and everyone’s idea gets recorded.

The above is one way an administrator can effectively facilitate a group planning session.

Have you ever used the Post-it note method? Do you have any other ways that ensures members work together as part of a team and that also makes them feel included?

This guest post is written by Robyn Bennett from Minutes Maddess.

Over the past ten years, Robyn has led in excess of 500 plus minute taking courses for over 1,000 participants. She runs the popular The Art of Minute Taking course at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, where it was the top Professional and Executive Development course for 2015 and 2016.

Robyn has developed systems and processes round the best way to write minutes and is passionate about sharing these with others who strive to be excellent minute takers.

Robyn has previously worked as an Executive Assistant and a contract minute taker. She is a past National President of the Association of Administrative Professionals New Zealand Inc.

Robyn can be contacted as follows:

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