Effective planning requires hard work on the following points:

As strategy planning specialists, we frequently acquire asked exactly how to run a strategic planning meeting, as good strategic meetings don’t happen by accident. They occur because someone is committed to

THINKING with the purpose and outcome, PLANNING every one of the details in development, and also DOING the hard work of running the meeting. This is the duty of a terrific virtual planning facilitator that can help you much better specify your strategy, develop a winning yearly plan and leave via an activity plan to acquire your annual initiatives done. In order to facilitate a planning session, tbelow is a lot of hard work that demands to be done. These same techniques need to be provided for in perchild sessions and digital strategic planning sessions via your monitoring team.

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At Rhythm Solution, our consultants are trained strategic facilitators and play an essential role in the strategic planning procedure. They are planning experts that aid you obtain the many ROI out of your meeting with their skilled facilitation abilities. We have actually facilitated numerous successful Strategic Planning, Annual Planning and Quarterly Planning sessions for our clients. In this blog short article, we will certainly share skilled insights from these sessions so that you deserve to range up your agency. Strategy planning (and also skilled facilitation) is crucial as the longer-term strategic priorities drive the shorter-term objectives, jobs, and actions with finish organizational alignment.

Keep in mind to strategic CEOs: Along via our capability to educate, coach and facilitate certain content and methodology throughout on-website sessions, one of the primary factors CEOs choose to lug us in to run their sessions is so that the CEO have the right to totally get involved. It is almost impossible for a CEO to effectively facilitate a session and totally participate at the exact same time. And the CEO’s contribution and participation is exceptionally vital to reach the preferred outcome. Session facilitation is an additional burden that is better put on one more team member or an skilled facilitator. You need to discover someone via the top 10 characteristics of a good facilitator.

Free Guide: How to Facilitate a Strategic Planning Session


Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 1: THINK Thunstable the Purpose and also Outcome of the Meeting

Stephen Covey advises us to “start via the end in mind.” What is the purpose of this meeting? What perform we hope to accomplish? Who have to attend? What work-related must the meeting participants acquire done before the meeting? What are the particular outcomes or outputs we are searching for from this strategic planning session? What is the role of a facilitator in a strategic planning session?

Creating an Objective Statement that you have the right to share with the remainder of the team in breakthrough is a good means to encertain everyone who attends the meeting comes with shared purposes and expectations for your time together. It will likewise offer you clarity as you move right into step 2 and also start planning for the session. Make sure that this aligns via your mission statement.

An efficient Objective Statement is composed of 3 parts:

1. TO: (What is the action? What are you going to do? Start through a verb.)

2. IN A WAY THAT: (How will certainly you go around doing it? List criteria, scope, involvement, success procedures, particular methods, side benefits, or any type of other pertinent information. Use bullet points.)

3. SO THAT: (Why are you doing this? Why is it important? What is the one main benefit?)

Sample Objective Statement for one company’s Quarterly Planning Session


TO: Conduct our Q4 planning session


Brings the Senior Leadership Team together for two full daysHighlights the previous quarter’s accomplishmentsUpdates and advancements our Annual Plan and long term goal attainmentAllows us to discuss-debate-agree instrumental topics as a teamPrepares us to overcome any potential obstacles to hitting our year-finish goalsIdentifies 3-5 Company type of Top Priorities, complete with owners and also clear success criteriaIdentifies clear Individual Top Priorities for each member of the leadership teamPrepares us to begin reasoning around following year’s Annual PlanAllows us to determine toughness and also weaknessesAnswers the key inquiries dealing with our agency and also industry

SO THAT: We finish this year strong and collection ourselves up for a strong start to following year.


Virtual Strategic Planning Facilitation Step 2: Plan every one of the Details in Advance

Anytime you bring your team together for a meeting, whether it’s for a couple of hrs or for a few days, you are making a large investment in time, energy and also money. The method to make sure you obtain the the majority of out of your investment is to make certain you are appropriately ready. The preparation checklist below will certainly aid you.


Strategic Planning Meeting Preparation Checklist

Set the date – You will certainly desire to recognize and collection the date as soon as you can so that everyone on your team can attfinish. The longer you wait, the harder it is to uncover a time that works. If this is an recurring, standing meeting, make sure everyone has it on their calendar eincredibly time it occurs and also actively works to protect the reserved time through the team.Select a location – Having a meeting or planning session in your own conference room have the right to be very inreliable. The possibility to shed focus and also be interrupted by operational issues boosts significantly. This is fine for brief, weekly, regimen meetings, however for 1-2 day planning sessions, we recommend taking your team off-website if you have the right to.Choose a Meeting Coordinator – This perkid is in charge of taking care of all of the logistics for the meeting, making certain participants have made travel arrangements, the conference room (on-site or off-site) is booked and set up for the session, and also that all participants are conscious of any type of homework/preparation that is needed for the session. Use someone on your team who is meticulous through details and have actually them develop a strategic planning checklist for future meetings.Prepare the meeting material – You and also the facilitator have to refer to your Objective Statement once producing the agenda. Be cautious not to overload your agenda. Be realistic around what you have the right to accomplish while you have actually easily accessible. Create a straightforward time arrangement to accompany your agenda. This will certainly aid you understand whether or not you are on track throughout the meeting. Less is more once it pertains to slides. The old dominance was no even more than 6x6 (6 words long by 6 bullets). In today’s Twitter and also drive-with human being, you’re much better offered to stick to 4x4, or much better yet, 3x3. Consider revealing information one bullet allude at a time, especially if you have to have actually even more than 6x6 on a slide and also always make certain that it is created for your taracquire audience.Email the meeting agenda and also pre-job-related to the attendees - Communicate via all attendees at least 2 weeks before the session, sharing the objective statement, agenda and also any pre-job-related you desire them to perform. Realize that some people - even via correct instruction - may be in the habit of attfinishing meetings unprepared. If you think about the pre-occupational important, let the team understand that it’s mandatory, and need them to return it in advance, or instruct them to bring duplicates to the meeting and also develop time to share the output into your agenda. This will permit people to think about the strategic purposes for themselves and the agency ahead of the meeting.Last minute details - Work via the meeting coordinator to make certain every one of the meeting details have been addressed: gives ordered, lunch planned, technology arrangements made, attendance confirmed, etc.


Remember to be realistic around what you deserve to achieve in the time you have available and also collection the agenda as necessary. The strategic planning facilitator likewise must save the team focused on having actually the best discussions essential for your organization. Understanding and working via the team dynamics is essential, specifically in a huge group. You have the right to check out even more details around a virtual strategic planning session in this associated post.


Virtual Strategic Planning Facilitation Tip 3: Do the Hard Work of Running the Strategy Session

Three definitions of the function of the facilitator:

“An individual who allows teams and also institutions to occupational even more effectively; to collaboprice and attain synergy. He or she is a ‘content neutral’ party that by not taking sides or expressing or advocating a point of check out in the time of the meeting, deserve to advocate for fair, open up, and inclusive measures to accomplish the group’s work.”“One who contributes structure and also process to interactions so teams are able to feature properly and also make high-high quality decisions. A helper and enabler whose goal is to assistance others as they attain superior performance.”“The facilitator’s task is to assistance everyone to execute their best thinking and practice. To carry out this, the facilitator motivates full participation, promotes mutual expertise and cultivates common obligation. By sustaining everyone to do their ideal thinking, a facilitator allows group members to search for inclusive options and construct sustainable agreements.”

Words facilitation means to make easy. Too bad actually facilitating a team of world isn’t. It takes a significant amount of power, focus, quick thinking and also patience to facilitate a meeting. If you have adhered to the first 2 actions in this blog post: (Step 1: THINK and Tip 2: PLAN), then you are set up for a effective session. But, tbelow is still most job-related to perform.

Here are 15 Tips you can use to store the strategy session relocating in a positive direction.

15 Expert Tips for Facilitating a Great Zoom Strategy Meeting

1. Set ground rules at the start of the meeting. Let the team talk about their expectations for full participation, candor, side bars, interruptions, tangents, and also cell phone and also computer use. Having this conversation upfront creates an atmosphere of accountcapability and also a high level of commitment to the meeting. Ground rules will certainly help mitigate the stress of group interactivity and make it much easier to deal with troubles when they aclimb. Record your ground rules on a flip chart while stating and short article for recommendation throughout the meeting.

2. Trust the procedure. Remember that you have actually put an excellent deal of time into measures 1 & 2, so you are going right into the day via a good game plan. Tright here may be times when points seem disjointed or the team doesn’t understand wright here you’re going. Let them recognize that tbelow is a technique to the madness and also ask them to trust the process through you. When making use of a slide deck and also agenda detailed by Rhythm Solution, understand that the procedure and also content has been tested and proven to work-related many type of times. It might not all come together until the very finish, however if you are going in via a clear objective and also well assumed out agenda, the results you’re looking for will follow and also the problem fixing will certainly occur.


3. Give yourself permission to deviate from the time plan if a topic needs more time than you assumed it would certainly. As lengthy as the extra time is offered for excellent, healthy disputes on crucial topics, and not the beating of dead equines, it will certainly be a great use of time. If you carry out deviate from the moment setup, involve the team in deciding exactly how you will make it up. You might choose to continue to be late or start at an early stage someday, or you might pick to cut or shorten the time permitted for one more topic. Involving the team in this discussion and decision increases engagement, energy and commitment (watch #11).

4. Celebprice your progression as you relocate with the session. Reflect on lessons learned and also breakthroughs. Acexpertise someone once they’re brave sufficient to carry up a tough topic. Check in through each other along the means to make certain you’re all continuing to be involved. After breaks, take into consideration restating what’s been accomplished and also where you are in the agenda.

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5. Use ice breakers through function. Ice breakers are quick, interenergetic exercises designed to gain the team’s brain functioning and mouth moving. They are generally used at the beginning of a session, after breaks, and after lunch. They deserve to also be good for increasing the energy level late in the afternoon. A quick Google search will certainly provide thousands of ideas for icebreakers. One of our favorites is a quick round of victories or excellent news. This actually serves numerous functions. It gives team members a possibility to share indevelopment with each other, it permits team members an opportunity to obtain to understand each various other better, and also it starts the meeting off on a positive note. We recommfinish that you start eextremely meeting via some variation of excellent news.

6. Encourage full and also equal participation. A team is made up of many type of different people, each through their very own personality and desired occupational style. Some are naturally more dominant and also expressive, while others might be even more thoughtful and scheduled. One style is not much better than one more, and also the fact that they’re on your team suggests that you worth their input. It’s the facilitator’s project to recognize these various formats and also run the meeting in a means that provides each perboy a chance to add. This is an excellent conversation to have at the start of the session as you are setting the ground rules.

Set the expectation of complete and equal participation clear and also give the team a chance to discuss just how they will certainly carry out this. The facilitator may need to action in throughout the meeting, specifically calling on people that have actually not spoken up. The facilitator might also choose to design the meeting to encompass certain avenues to hear from everyone. Examples of this would certainly be small group breakout sessions or employing various brainstorming techniques (view #8.)

7. Use visual aids effectively. Any combination of flip charts, white boards, sticky notes, posters, PowerPoint/Keynote, and handouts will certainly execute. We’ve all checked out the perchild that provided eexceptionally animation tool within PowerPoint - wiggly jiggly icons, annoying animations, slides swiping in from 20 directions in 5 various methods. Don’t overexecute it and enable your visuals to distract from the meeting. People have actually various styles of finding out, Some are visual learners, some auditory, some kinesthetic and also some experiential, so mix it up and use all aids in moderation. Keep in mind that your body language is among the most vital visual aids that you have actually, make sure that you make people feel favor they are being heard.


8. Use different approaches for brainstorming. Round robin, freewheeling, group pass and silent reflection are all prcooktop approaches you might attempt. The point of brainstorming is to create a comprehensive list of potential principles, solutions or plans. When done well, brainstorming need to increase participation, mitigate inhibition, stimulate concepts, rise creative thinking and be a group process.

The basic rules for all brainstorming techniques are:

Focus on amount first-capture as many type of concepts as feasible.Encourage and welcome all concepts - ask the team to dig deep and think past the apparent - every idea submitted must be caught.Hold off on judgment, criticism or reality checks - this have to be a “safe time.” Ideas will certainly be disputed and disputed later.Use brief phrases and bullet points, not paragraphs and lengthy explanations.“Piggy back” on others’ principles. Outlandish principles can be stepping stones to good, workable principles.


Round Robin

Ask for a volunteer to start the brainstorming procedure via one concept. The facilitator captures the idea on a flip chart for all to view. Ask the volunteer to pick whether to go to the best or the left, enabling the perkid sitting beside them to sell one concept. The facilitator continues to chart the answers, going about the room till everyone has actually had actually a possibility to contribute at least one idea. You deserve to then try to take a second pass about the room if the principles are flowing easily, or you might open it as much as anyone that has an additional principle not previously mentioned.


If you’re working with a team wbelow equal participation is not an concern, you might have the ability to open up the brainstorming session up by asking for concepts, allowing civilization to offer suggestions in any kind of order at all. Be sure to chart all principles through short bullet points using the participants’ words. This method can go quick, so you may want to ask for a volunteer to aid chart answers making use of a 2nd flip chart.

Group Pass

Each person in the group starts with a piece of paper, writes down one concept, and then passes the piece of paper to the next perkid. The following perchild then builds on the original principle, adding a few thoughts. Continue approximately the room until the owner gets their original item of paper back. You have the right to then ask each perkid to take a minute to evaluation their original principle and also share through the team.

Silent Reflection

Some civilization require a small time to think and also formulate their ideas. Instruct the team that you are offering them a specific amount of time (5-15 minutes, relying on the topic) to think and also compose dvery own their principles. You can ask them to create their principles on sticky notes, one concept per note, or list them on a sheet of paper. If you use sticky notes, you have the right to then ask them to check out one principle at a time and also place them on the wall, grouping all similar principles together. If they are created on a item of notebook paper, you have the right to use the Round Robin technique to share and also chart the ideas.

9. Use a Parking Lot. Stay on track by producing a place to capture ideas that are not correct to the conversation at hand but that you don’t want to shed. Make it visible to all by utilizing a white board, tear sheet, and so on This helps you keep the meeting focused without chasing too many kind of “rablittle bit trails.” It is important to honor all concepts, inquiries, and comes to that come up in the time of a session, and also by placing the item in your parking lot, you sfinish the subtle message that all contributions are crucial. Refer to the parking lot items while facilitating as soon as correct and also evaluation any kind of unrefixed items at the finish of your session, moving them to an action item list. In a strategy meeting, you must store the team on task and also using a parking lot deserve to help you attain that.


10. Deal with tough civilization ahead of time. Before your meeting, think about participants that have a tendency to be outspoken, to overcome, or to argue in meetings. Think additionally around participants that may have felt bullied or intimidated in the past, or that might have a history of not participating openly. Have a conversation through these people prior to the session, explaining your issue and asking for their help in developing a healthy and also abundant atmosphere. Helpful language as soon as talking to the leading perchild could incorporate, “Jim, I’m trying to boost participation in this meeting. I really appreciate your outspokenness and worth your input. If it’s ok via you, I’d prefer you to go last so I might initially hear the rest of the team’s thinking before you share yours.” Be sure to circle back and give that participant a chance to share.

This is likewise an excellent topic to discuss while establishing ground rules at the start of the session. Discuss in breakthrough the, expectations for politeness and also tone in the time of the meeting, and also ask the team for permission to allude it out if points get off track. If conflict arises in the time of a meeting, the facilitator need to be all set to step in and also take regulate of the meeting. Anytime the conversation becomes accusatory or personal, the facilitator deserve to ask the participant to reword statements so that they are focused on services, facts and organization concerns, not civilization and also blame. A great approach for redirecting a heated discussion is to ask the team to discuss their lrevenue quite than their frustrations. Be sure to execute this eextremely time the language becomes personal, and before you recognize it, your team will certainly police this habits themselves. Conflict resolution is a main duty for the facilitator.

11. Keep the power high. Enthusiasm is transmittable - so is negativity. Some world need to doodle while they think, some need playthings like a Koosh ball or rubber Gumby, others need talk time through various other participants, and others need to stand also up or walk about the room from time to time. Think through your meeting day and also plan means to store energy high for the entire time to keep the team paying attention.

Have participants occupational in pairs, write somepoint down, occupational together on puzzles, make mini-presentations on topics assigned prior to and after breaks, schedule group breakout sessions, and so on Remember that the power of the room is often a notch or two below that of the facilitator, so it is essential to keep your personal energy high too. Try to get plenty of sleep the night prior to, eat well, have actually plenty of water on hand and also take breaks as required as team facilitation is hard!

12. Get to agreement. Many kind of discussion topics call for relocating the team from a number of individual, independent ideregarding one agreed upon group decision. Consensus deserve to be identified professionally as an acceptable resolution that can be sustained by everyone on the team. It does not expect that everyone on the team has to agree that this is their number one favorite resolution, just that they will support the decision going forward. Supporting a decision suggests that you will speak positively about the decision to others, you will certainly do everything in your power to make sure the decision results in a positive outcome, and you will certainly not say “they determined.”

Explaining the interpretation of consensus and support to the team at the start of the discussion deserve to be beneficial in getting to a resolution. An important step in getting to consensus is making sure that all ideas are evaluated and also everyone’s perspective is heard. This is not just crucial in gaining buy-in for the final conclusion, it likewise generates the best ideas and also remedies. Structuring a procedure for team decision making is a critical facilitation ability.

Here are some tips to assist team decision making:

Use the brainstorming tips above to recognize all possible services (check out #8)Combine and attach similar ideasUse structured approaches, favor The Six Thinking Hats, to aid take the emotion out of the discussionSet a time limit for discussion on each potential solutionMake sure everyone is participating in the conversation and, make sure everyone is proactively listening and also applying their listening skillsWork to narrowhead the choices down to as few as possibleDon’t be afrassist to contact for a vote to check out how cshed the team is to full agreementIf tbelow are simply one or two holdouts, seek to understand what and also just how firm their objections areEngage the group in troubleshooting to minimize the potential negative impact identified by any objections or comes to raisedRestate the a lot of popular resolution, adding one or 2 points addressing the pertains to elevated, and ask the holdouts if they have the right to support that decisionSometimes people will certainly obtain recorded up in the moment and also proceed the controversy just for the sake of suggesting. Ask the holdout if they will lose sleep if the team moves forward with the proposed resolution. Refer back to the definition of assistance and ask if they will certainly support the decision.With consensus, tbelow is often weaken. Not everyone gets every little thing they desire out of the last decision. However, bereason you developed an environment wright here everyone has had an possibility for input, the decisions reached are frequently ones that will certainly be very effective and also highly supported.


13. Document and also publish the Who-What-Whens. Who-What-When action items are leading indicators of successful meeting outcomes. How often execute teams meet, comment on and controversy crucial topics, then collection the following meeting day just to find at the next meeting that no development has actually been made? It is important that you, as the facilitator, encertain that eincredibly instrumental conversation ends in a recorded action recorded in an action list of Who is accountable (one perchild only), What they will certainly do, and When it will be completed. Create a habit of finishing meetings with a testimonial of the Who-What-Whens and also start meetings via confirmation on completion of the actions assigned.

14. Finish solid. People won’t always remember what you perform or say, however they will certainly always remember how you made them feel. And what they will certainly remember a lot of is exactly how they felt at the end of the meeting. Whether you completed eextremely objective you lassist out or operated all the means with the agenda, it’s important to acknowledge the success of the team and celebrate their focus, contribution, time invested and also difficult work-related. Finish the meeting by recapping the decisions made, reviewing the actions committed to, and confirming the following actions. We also recommend you give everyone a chance to share exactly how they are feeling as they leave. You deserve to go around the room and ask each perkid to share a one-word/ one expression closing statement, or share one takeameans or breakwith they acquired throughout the meeting.

15. Ask for feedearlier. Great facilitators are not born overnight. They construct and enhance over years of suffer. And, the the majority of experienced facilitators understand that the finest means to acquire better is to ask for feedback. You deserve to ask the team before they leave to create dvery own one bbest spot from the meeting and also one area to job-related on or carry out differently next time. You can email everyone after the session asking for feedearlier. Or, you ask for a quick one-on-one conversation from a few trusted advisors in the room.

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You want to encourage feedago on the agenda, pre-session interaction, style of the day and homework, as well as how you perdeveloped and also handled hard cases during the session. No matter how you pick to get feedago, take it seriously. Don’t take it personally or complain to others around it. All feedearlier, also negative feedago, is a gift. Thank the perchild that common via you and make every initiative to incorpoprice all useful suggestions into your following session. Stay motivated and stick with it. You will certainly get better eincredibly time you facilitate, so volunteer and look for opportunities to exercise. Gradually, the tips in this blog post will come to be second nature. Good luck!

This blog short article shares the top tips and also tricks to facilitation from the Facilitator overview written by Chris Cosper and also Barry Pruitt and also adjusted to a blog post by Ted Skinner. If you’d favor to downfill the guide, please click here. We really hope that you enjoy the facilitation approaches outlined in this short article to keep group discussions both positive and abundant. We hope this completely answered your question of exactly how to lead a strategic planning session, if you want to obtain the best ROI on your investment of time and also energy drop us a line and also we"ll see if it makes sense for you.


Read our other strategic planning and also facilitation short articles below:

Annual Planning: 9 Tips to Focus & Align Your Team via a Great Plan