No two mediations are exactly alike because no two disputes are exactly alike. However, among the things that a mediator may do to facilitate settlement is to make certain each party is clear on what the dispute is really about and that each party understands (not necessarily agrees with) the position of the other parties.
A mediator may help to formulate alternatives and help a party clarify how those alternatives fit in with that party’s goals and how they might work. A mediator also serves as a conduit for information between the parties, especially where the parties have difficulty communicating directly with one another.
Note that a mediator is not an advocate for any party. Mediators are trained to remain completely impartial.