Democratic Meeting Facilitation

Total time: 2 solid hours without breaks or optional piece.

Introductions (5min)

Agenda Review – butcher paper

Logistics – bathroom, snacks, etc.

Current Process Overview (5min)

Go Around (5min)

“What do you want to get out of today's training?”

What experience have you had with good/bad facilitation?

Meeting Facilitation - (45min)

Agenda Formation – (5min)

Agenda planning helps use everyone’s valuable time well. (Instead of wasting the time of 25 people at a bad meeting)

For difficult meetings or meetings with more than 10 people, ideally should spend equal time planning meeting as actual meeting time (2 hours planning for a 2 hour meeting). But facilitator should go over at least an hour before if not the day before every meeting.

Be realistic in suggesting times taking into account what you know about each item – contact agenda item presenter if necessary

Standard Agenda

Hand out a standard agenda for this group including items like: Intros, Agenda Review, Report Backs, Announcements, Evaluation, etc.

When you order stuff, don't put hard stuff together

Feel free to split up big decisions

Written Proposals – Especially for controversial or large proposals. Clearly written and given to Facilitator before meeting ideally including:

Date and name of proposal author(s)

Statement of problem or issue being addressed

Relevant history

Options for addressing problem or issue

Recommendation for best option

Cost (if any)

Trial period and evaluation process

Agenda Formation Exercise(15min)

Brainstorm list individually)

Roles – removed scribe, doorkeeper, snackmaker, vibes

Facilitator – (15min)

Facilitate means to make easy

Facilitates hearing and communicating

Clarify issues

Focus discussion


Bring out all viewpoints

Awareness of who’s speaking (gender, race, age, etc.)

Draws out quiet/oppressed people and limits talkers/privileged

Listen for underlying agreement

Synthesize differences

Ok to make judgment calls

Basically bottom-line responsible for making the meeting run well.

Make sure people know about meeting (make sure you or someone else calls them)

Come with proposed agenda

If it is going to be a hot issue for you it would be good to ask someone else to facilitate (when you want to focus on the issue more than the process)

Also if you have a lot to report back it’s better if you don’t facilitate to balance of talking time

Guerrilla Facilitation

Tyranny e

Note taker – (5min)

Names, date, highlights of discussions, word for word proposal and decision reached and intention of decision

Level of detail of note taking depends on subject matter and discussion

Emailing notes out to entire group can be helpful in keeping folx informed who can’t make meetings – taking in to account that not everyone has internet access.

Keep them in a notebook as a record of decisions and group history

Reading notes from last meeting helps prevent unnecessarily repeating discussions and proposals and can improve follow up and accountability on implementing decisions

Good to go over notes at end of meeting to remember what decisions were made and make sure they have people assigned to implement them

Timekeeper – (5min)

Need a watch

Strive towards informing rather than interrupting while being firm

Your job is not to just hold a watch and feel important (or unimportant). You are the champion of a meeting ended early and the last defense against the evil of a way too long meeting.

Need to make judgments about where the discussion is at – for example if its in the middle of a complex discussion it’s not likely to be wrapped up in less than 10 minutes

Warnings at 10, 5, 2 or whatever’s appropriate.

Some democratic theory – (15min) [OPTIONAL]

elements of successful democratic process

Clear process that is understood by all

Adequate participation

Adequate deliberation

Adequate information

Mitigation of "invisible" barriers to democracy(AKA oppression)

Honesty and Solidarity


Collaborative decision-making vs Competetive decision making

Be careful that debate(deliberation) doesn't lead to debate(defensive posturing and positioning)

Instead of one idea vs. another it is a collaborative synthesis of best solutions for all concerns raised

Perhaps you can help articulate the position of someone you disagree with - less likely in an argument.

Less likely to make improvements if you are defending your position

Pitfalls of voting, Majority Rule, and competetive decision-making

watch out for a rolling majority that silences members

Pay attention to people consistantly in the minority opinio

are they being listened to, heard, is oppression at work?

Decision making deconstructed

Consensus Role Play - (30min each)

Scenario 1 – Ordering a Pizza

Setup 5 min

You are hungry for pizza after a long day of fun in the snow and it closes in 15min

Nearest working phone is ¼ mile down the road


You are a vegan (nice but militant)

You Love anchovies and never get to have them

You Love sausage and are a little tired of vegetarians

You are vegetarian

Decision 15

Eval/Debrief – 15

Scenario 2 – 9/11 Anniversary “United We Stand” Parade (30min)

Setup 5 min

PCASC has been planning to hold anti-CAFTA signs at the World Trade Center in which is along the route of the parade. The parade will start in 15 minutes and take about 5 minutes to reach the world trade center where you are now.

You can already see thousands of people with flags getting ready for the parade. On the news coverage of the event last night the Police Chief was quoted as saying, “I believe in free speech but these people need to remember which government gave them that freedom. Any unlawful attempt to disrupt the parade WILL result in arrests.”

You just found out that the Senator will be marching in the parade. He is a key in the upcoming CAFTA vote in congress.

Someone suggests taking the 1000s of anti-CAFTA leaflets in their car and joining the parade with a Senator handing out leaflets.


You told the Senator the last time you saw him that you would never let him sleep if he voted for Fast Track.

You have an ankle injury from soccer, which will make it painful to march.

Can’t get arrested ‘cause you have a warrant

You are scared about going in the street.

You think people who don’t want to go in the street are liberals.

Decision (15min)

Debrief (10min)

Who facilitated? Was it a decision or did someone just do it?

Does anyone think it was a bad decision?

What worked well? What could have worked better?

Go around feedback/check-out (10min)