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Staying on track - Inclusee

Staying on track

Staying on track

We’ve all been in meetings or conversations where things go off track. So, what can you do as a facilitator to bring it back in?

If multiple topics of conversation are brought up and discussions are splitting up, bring the focus back to the meeting and decide as a group which topic you want to pursue first. Keeping in mind that a lot of our clubs will be general in nature and not very regimented in terms of an agenda needing to be covered, so just decide what you’d like to talk about first and you could try jotting down any other ideas or conversation points so that if the conversation starts lacking at a later point, you’ve got something to refer back to.

Keep a list

Similarly, if multiple participants are wanting to speak at the same time, manage it by jotting down the name of who’d like to speak and then give everyone a go without interruption, as we just learnt, we are all about active listening and this is a great example of that in practice.

An example of what you can say if this happens could be “I’m noticing we’ve gone off track a bit here, but I’m still interested in discussing XYZ! How about we chat about XYZ first and then we can circle back to the other conversation?”. If people are talking over one another, you can try “Let’s hear from *Jane* first and then we’ll come back to you *Jill*, is that alright?”.

This is why preparation before your meeting might come in handy, so you’ve got a clear idea of what your topics are or have a list of conversation points you think could be interesting for the group to discuss.

You’re the guide

As a facilitator, you’re there to guide a conversation, provide direction and coordination. Your job is not to be an expert in material or to figure out how everyone should contribute to a group discussion.

Invite, but don’t force participation and help people to “save face” by trying not to put them on the spot directly. You can try this by making an effort to engage everyone, by asking them an individual or direct, but open-ended question and really listening to their response, and then asking them to elaborate. If you’re ever concerned about someone not engaging or participating, mention it to your ESO at your next check-in, and they can help you work through that.

Make peace with silence! If you ask a question and no one answers, avoid answering your own question or following it up with another one straight away. You want to set an expectation for dialogue, not monologue, so give it space to actually happen.

When you are facilitating, try an 8-10 second rule and allow for that long of silence before asking a different question, re-wording the question or prompting a response from somebody because people need time to process a question you’ve asked, so expect there to be a delay and don’t follow up with more questions or bombard them with demanding an answer, give them time to process and come up with a response.


Before you wrap up a session, allow some time to pause and reflect or recap on it. Discuss what you’ve taken from the meeting and ask others to reflect as well. Once the meeting is coming to a close, use that time to remind your participants of the day and time of the next session and what you’ll be planning or discussing for that. This helps people process and consolidate what they have learned, and leaves them on a high note with something to look forward to.