Running a family meeting successfully takes skill and training. Among other things, the facilitator makes certain the dialogue stays productive, nudges people back on track, guides the decision-making process, and defends the weakest members of the family. Rarely, if ever, should the facilitator be the head of the family or the head of the business. Whether or not that person intends it, he or she winds up being intimidating and therefore stifles open discussion.
Outside facilitators are often hired to navigate family meetings. However, many family members have the style, temperament and desire to act as facilitators. Loyola University's Family Business Center's Communications Institute in Chicago offers weekend training sessions for family business meeting facilitators. Several other university-based family business centers and individual family business advisors offer similar instruction.