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  • Writer's pictureJ.D. Solomon

Great Facilitation Agendas: What Little League Baseball Taught Me

Facilitation and coaching baseball require starting fast with a solid agenda.
Facilitation and coaching baseball require starting fast with a solid agenda.

Baseball coaches and facilitators often share the common problem of developing an agenda. And if one meaning of facilitation is to make things easier, then coaches and facilitators have a limited chance of success if they struggle right out of the gate. These are a few things I learned from many years of being a successful Little League Baseball coach and leading great facilitation.

Little League Baseball

At the beginning of the season, start with a 15-minute brainstorm. List on a pad of paper in two columns what you consider effective uses of time in past seasons and what strikes you now as time wasted.

Among the principles that inform a time-efficient practice (session) plan are:

  1. Minimal time standing in line waiting for the next activity.

  2. Move players (participants) quickly, station to station.

  3. Incorporate stations (exercises) so that nobody wastes time and gets bored.

  4. No long lectures. If you can’t explain a skill simply, players (participants) won’t learn it, anyway.

  5. Lengthier talk about procedures, team culture, or life lessons can happen while stretching at the start of practice (before the session) or when the team naturally gathers in one place (breaks). Avoid distracting players when they are focusing on execution (a topic).

  6. Tie practice (session) plans together to produce a cumulative effect. Players (participants) cannot understand everything in one practice (session).

Facilitation Agendas

Facilitation agendas should incorporate purpose, approach, work process, and deliverables.

The Basics

  1. Start wide with all participants' input and ensure all participants have a similar understanding.

  2. Establish a common understanding.

  3. Establish the basis for decision making.

  4. Establish a process for conflict resolution.

  5. Use early successes to narrow focus and start building agreement.

  6. Communicate activities to others, such as sponsoring organizations or internal departments.

  7. Provide time and formats to consider disagreement.


There are many facilitation conceptual models and frameworks. Several commons aspects can be used to develop a specific facilitation approach:

  • Degree of hierarchical or group-led solution development

  • Degree of learning or training development

  • Type of agreement required to move forward (i.e., consensus or majority)

  • Amount of participant interaction

  • Linear or concurrent topic discussion and decisions

  • Involvement of executive sponsors or decision maker(s)

Work Process

The agenda sets the process for a single session. A facilitation plan for multi-session efforts should include single-session agendas, or at least a framework of objectives and outcomes for each session.

Each agenda should focus on the effort's objective, process, and deliverables. In coordination with the executive sponsor, each facilitator should develop an overarching facilitation approach before setting single-session meeting agendas.

Example of Agendas

A three-part or a five-part structure is best for most facilitation.


  1. Opening – Session Objectives, Agenda Review, Previous Minutes Approval, Participant Comments/Updates

  2. Main Body – Activities that accomplish session objectives

  3. Closing – Action Items, Objectives Review, Session Feedback, Next Steps


  1. Opening – Objectives, Agenda Review, Previous Minutes Approval, Participant Comments/Updates

  2. Building – Secondary activities that build rapport, teamwork, and incremental accomplishment

  3. Main Body – Primary Activity that accomplishes Meeting objectives

  4. Falling – Validation of primary activity or set-up activity for next session

  5. Closing – Action Items, Objectives Review, Session Feedback, Next Steps

Customizing the Agenda

  1. Focus on special purposes and deliverables.

  2. Customize based on participants and probable issues. Use pre-session exchanges to drill into participant perspectives and issues.

  3. Balance time. For example, a standard time like 20 minutes should be used for all presentations rather than giving certain topics or speakers more time than others. If more emphasis is needed on a particular topic, have multiple 20-minute sessions to make intentional decisions about how participants spend their time.

  4. Incorporate exercises and associated technologies. Field visits may be applicable for some topics.

Applying It with FINESSE

Setting the agenda is essential for coaching baseball and being a great facilitator. This article provides some tips for building an agenda and some examples. Above all, remember to take the time to develop a facilitation approach, a facilitation plan, and a well-thought session agenda.


JD Solomon Inc provides solutions at the nexus of the natural and built environments. Contact us for more information on SAFE facilitation, facilitating strategic plans, and facilitating process improvements, risk assessments, and risk management plans. Sign-up for monthly updates on how we are applying reliability and risk concepts to natural systems.


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