In partnership with David Lunken, Make Happy has defined the five stages of effective facilitation, the first of which is pre-planning. Part of our new course the Foundations of Facilitation, the five stages are a structure that anyone can use to plan and deliver a better meeting. 

We define a meeting as anytime two or more people get together for a purpose. 

Before thinking about the stages you should identify the facilitator and the problem owner. Having two separate roles allows one to completely separate the process from the content of the meeting.

One of the core often overlooked parts of a meeting is the first stage of effective facilitation: pre-planning. Pre-planning occurs prior to the meeting. The problem owner and facilitator should collaborate during this stage.

Pre-planning & Purpose

The first part of the pre-planning is to define the purpose. Why are we getting together? Why are we doing this meeting?

For example: At Make Happy we run a daily scrum meeting – the set purpose for this meeting is to check in with the team to see if anyone has any barriers to their work and whether these can be solved.

Pre-planning & Logistics

The other element is the high-level logistics. This encapsulates:

  • Where is the meeting going to take place?
  • When is it going to happen?
  • Who is going to be there?

When considering logistics it is important to think about whether the meeting is going to be in-person, online or hybrid. Do we have the tech in place to allow for a successful meeting and to allow everyone to participate?

It is also important to consider the time zones of all the participants; you don’t want to set up a meeting that is going to be at 2 am in the morning for your colleague in Singapore.


Overall, pre-planning is the first of five key stages of effective facilitation. Success in pre-planning occurs when all participants’ logistical needs are considered and everyone in the meeting is clear on the meeting’s purpose.