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Meeting Planning and Facilitation Tips for SARTs

Many SART coordinators and facilitators have not had formal training on how to convene people and run meetings. My first SART facilitation experience was when I was in my early 20s, working as I advocate. I was told to fill in for the coordinator when they were on vacation. I had attended SART meetings and facilitated other community meetings, but I really had no idea what I was doing. And this is often how it is for coordinators and/or facilitators. They are people (advocates, attorneys, victim witness specialists, etc.) who care about the work they do and the SART work is just a small part of it. But they are expected to convene people, facilitate meetings, coordinate projects, and navigate team dynamics without necessarily being trained or naturally adept at doing those things. This can lead to meetings where both the facilitator and team members are frustrated.

This month’s blog series will focus on some tips and ideas to help coordinators better plan and facilitate meetings.  The work of facilitating is often part of the work of the coordinator, so this will include some of the things that need to be done outside of the actual meeting that can help to ensure meetings are useful (and maybe even enjoyable) for all involved.

As this is a longer month, I have divided the work into 4 main sections:

  • Planning for the meeting (agenda and goals)
  • Setting up the meeting (logistics)
  • Running the meeting (facilitating)
  • Following up (after the meeting ends…)

Each week we will cover a different section. At the end of the month, I hope you have some tangible ideas that will help you in your work! In comments, please leave one piece of advice that you have learned about meeting planning and facilitation that you wish you would have known when you started.