Explain the ground rules and meeting structure
The facilitator should explain the meeting ground rules at the beginning—how the meeting will be structured, how much time will be devoted to what. Review the difference between voting and consensus
Explain the difference between a majority vote and coming to consensus as the sense of the meeting. A senior League member or board member can help the facilitator explain. The time devoted to this will depend on the experience of the members participating.
The role of the discussion leader/facilitator is to make sure that:
- everyone has a copy of the agenda/program and knows what to expect,
- meeting format and ground rules are understood up front,
- members understand they have a role in the meeting/consensus, and
- everyone stays on track until the day’s goal is met.
Define the recorder’s role
The recorder should be at the front of the room in clear view of the members participating. It is best to record on large easel paper that can be viewed by everyone. After each question check back with the participants to make sure the consensus of the room is captured before you move on. You may make notes to include in the comments section at the end of the questions. Remember, this is limited to 500 words or less in each box. Comments are optional, not required.
Review state and local positions
Facilitators and presenters should be knowledgeable of any relevant state and local positions and present any possible conflicts up front.
Ask the group’s help in keeping on topic
People will usually cooperate if they understand why you must ask them to keep their comments focused. A “Parking Lot” so they do not feel ignored is often helpful. Explaining up front encourages positive peer pressure.
Make sure everyone understands the materials presented
Encourage people to ask questions when they do not understand something. This material is often complicated and the language may be unfamiliar. Asking for raised hands can help assure everyone is included.
If you have a “talkative group”
You know your League. If they like to talk, have trouble keeping focused or have a lot of opinions, it may be useful to have a timed agenda and a time-keeper to assist the facilitator.
The importance of the end of the meeting review
It is important to allow ten or fifteen minutes at the end of the meeting for the recorder to review the notes and reaffirm the sense of the meeting. This is reassuring to everyone that his/her thoughts have been heard.
After the meeting
Schedule a committee debriefing.
Schedule a meeting of your committee to debrief as soon as possible after the consensus meeting so discussion is still fresh in their minds. Early access to the recorder’s notes by email is helpful. Do not file the report electronically yet. Prepare your report using the WORD version that is included in this kit and present it to your local League board for approval. If you have had more than one meeting or come to consensus in multiple unit meetings, it will be the job of the committee to consolidate these reports and make one report for your board. After that approval, one delegated person will go to the website and file the online report. Full instructions will be provided when you log into the response form, and only one report per League will be accepted.