Facilitation Tips for Early-Career Designers

How to ease the nerves and host a successful meeting

A colorful illustration of an individual sitting at a desk talking to peers on a video call.
Source: DrawKit — Education & Online Learning Pack

Designers attend various meetings throughout the day — some that are necessary and others that aren’t. Two that come to mind are daily stand-ups and design critiques. I recently finished up a UX certification program, where we started each day with a stand-up meeting. In these meetings, each student answered the following questions:

  1. What did you accomplish yesterday?
  2. What are you working on today?
  3. What roadblocks are you currently facing?

A different student facilitated our stand-up meetings each day. This gave everyone a chance to practice hosting a meeting. For some, it was uncomfortable, including me, but the more I did it the better I got. I even started to look forward to facilitating. In this quick article, I want to focus on sharing some tips for early-career designers like myself who may have the opportunity to host daily stand-ups.

Tip #1: Prepare an Agenda

If you follow one of these four tips, make sure it’s this one! Preparing an agenda, not only for daily stand-ups but for other meetings, is how you can ensure things run smoothly. You’re also likely to be less nervous if you have a plan. Think of how you can get the most out of hosting a daily stand-up.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Prepare an icebreaker. I know this sounds cliché, but icebreakers are a great way to make daily stand-ups more interactive.
  2. Invite your peers to a Miro board and conduct a warm-up exercise to get everyone’s creative juices flowing, especially early in the morning.
  3. Get ideas from others (see below). How might learning new approaches to solving problems help you complete your day-to-day tasks?

Tip #2: Ask Follow-up Questions & Gather Ideas

Besides asking the standard questions above, asking follow-up questions of your fellow teammates and peers is a great way to engage in the conversation as a facilitator. When I facilitate daily stand-ups, I always like to take some time to gather ideas from others and see how they’re approaching their tasks. Additionally, I like to ask my peers if they’ve discovered any new design or productivity tools. If it’s a Friday, maybe ask what everyone’s plans are for the weekend. Make it fun! There is no set template here and asking follow-up questions will depend on how the conversation is flowing.

Tip #3: Practice, Practice, Practice

The phrase, “practice makes perfect,” despite how many times you’ve heard it, will always be good advice to follow. The more you practice facilitating, the better you’ll get at it and the less nervous you’ll be. There are two things I like to do to practice for an important speaking engagement:

  1. Talk in front of a mirror
  2. Record myself and listen to it after. This helps me discover and reflect on what I could be doing better. Did I use a lot of filler words? Did I explain myself in a concise manner?

Tip #4: Let Your Personality Shine

Facilitating meetings isn’t easy. Depending on your personality, you may look forward to them or resent them. I encourage you to think of them as an opportunity to grow, to learn from others, and to practice your skills. Most importantly, let your personality shine. You got this!

A detail-oriented product designer focusing on design systems, interactions, and research — celinefucci.com