Meetings

by   Steve Roche

Providing a process to complete tasks (macro)

When you are running a meeting, you will be providing process at two different levels. At the macro level it is about the structure of the meeting, and at the micro level it is about small interventions to keep things running smoothly. There is much more on this in the topic on Facilitation.

The following are some of the things you can do at the macro level to provide process in a meeting.

It is a bad plan that can’t be changed.

Publius Syrus 46 BC

Agenda

This is the framework for the whole meeting. During the meeting you need to monitor progress through the agenda and pace group members through it. Keep one eye on the clock and the agenda time frames. When it’s time to move on, suggest that the group do so. If people want or need to keep talking on a topic, then renegotiate the agenda or defer the topic for another meeting.

Issues, and a Parking Lot

Creating a list of ‘Issues’ (on a flipchart or whiteboard) is an effective way to handle questions and challenges that might otherwise throw the group off course. When somebody raises a point or problem that is valid but not part of the task at hand, put it on the list to be addressed later.

Benefits:

  • keeps everything visible
  • shows people they have been heard and keeps them involved
  • demonstrates that contributions are valued
  • engenders a sense of progress, while staying focused.

You can use another sheet headed Parking Lot in the same way, to hold an idea or question until later. Some people call this the fridge where issues will keep nice and fresh until later.

Actions list

Create a list of Actions at an early stage. When at any point probable actions are identified, write them on the list to avoid them being lost and keep them visible. Return to this list later in the meeting to review and agree actions, and to allocate owners and dates.