Eastern Kentucky University’s Director of the Facilitation Center, Stefanie Ashley, has recently obtained her Certified Virtual Facilitator credential (CVF) from the International Institute for Facilitation (INIFAC).
Ashley now joins a growing group of facilitating professionals who have demonstrated the skills, knowledge, and understanding to facilitate effective virtual meetings.
“The majority of meetings are not run effectively and that has been exacerbated by the transition to virtual meetings, said Ashley. “It’s created an environment where the only meetings people want to attend are the ones they’ve not been invited to.”
The CVF was created based on a set of researched international facilitation competencies. To become a CVF, applicants must meet requirements in six facilitation competency areas: Presence, Assessment, Communication, Control, Consistency, and Engagement. The results of competency in these areas are more engaging and effective virtual meetings.
“This step supports our mission to promote the use of a facilitative process, which includes virtual meetings as well as in person,” said Ashley. “The designation also demonstrates the commitment from the Facilitation Center, and EKU to be innovative, provide the highest quality product, and our continual pursuit of professional excellence.”
As Director of the Facilitation Center, Ashley is one of only 200 Certified Professional Facilitators in the world. She aids groups in creative problem-solving, funneling ideas into action, and overcoming difficult topics and challenges. She also provides professional training in meeting management and facilitation, occupational analysis, strategic planning, and other related topics.
“Virtual meetings will not go away. They were here pre-pandemic, and they are going to stay,” said Ashley. “Moving forward, we envision a mix of in person, virtual and hybrid meetings where some participants join in-person and others join virtually. We believe we will see a hybrid for quite some time.”
The most important tip Ashley shares with those struggling with virtual meetings is to plan for engagement.
“Planning for any meeting is critical and that includes planning how you are going to engage your participants,” said Ashley. “If you are going to take the time to pull people together for a meeting, it needs to be to get their feedback, to have a discussion, to reach consensus. It needs to have some sort of engagement on their part.”
Her professional experience includes 13 years in association management, facilitating meetings, developing content and curriculum for various fields of study, and assisting with organizational, financial, program, product/service, and governance development.
Ashley has a Master’s Degree in Career and Technical Education, with an emphasis in Occupational Training and Development and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from EKU.
For information and tips on how to improve virtual meetings, visit https://facilitation.eku.edu/insidelook/facilitation-center-eku-offers-tips-improve-virtual-meetings.