Enjoyable & Effective Meetings (You Make the Difference through Book 1)


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Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Amazon Music Stream millions of songs. Amazon Advertising Find, attract, and engage customers. Amazon Drive Cloud storage from Amazon. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web. AmazonGlobal Ship Orders Internationally. Among the worst meetings are those that exhibit the opposite of the "good rules" stated above: Wasted time and deflated energy for the participants, not to mention a culture of meeting-dread. Everyone has stories of horrible meetings, and a few examples of good ones. Earlier in my career, I facilitated public meetings about hazardous waste cleanups that were taking place in various communities, so I have seen more than my share of tense or awful meetings.

But in the workplace, most fall into the "out of control" or "unnecessary" categories. One of the worst of these that I've experienced saw six participants droning on for four-and-one-half hours about which category should appear in the first column of a planning document, and it really didn't matter. It was a hideous waste of time. Another meeting faux pas occurred when a corporate representative stood up at a community meeting and made a statement that showed he didn't even think about the situation, or comment, from the community members' perspective. He ended up getting a minute tongue-lashing from an elected state legislator who was in the audience and campaigning for re-election.

In another case, employees from the company's information technology department routinely showed up unprepared. When asked at one meeting to give a presentation on the department's progress, the representative positioned himself in an alcove of the meeting room, which meant that most participants couldn't even see him and thus had trouble hearing him! Needless to say, it didn't make a very good impression, but worse, no one at the meeting brought it to his attention or asked him to reposition himself -- they just complained about it afterward. That means a facilitator isn't there to give opinions, but to draw out opinions and ideas of the group members.

This includes things like: Making sure everyone feels comfortable participating Developing a structure that allows for everyone's ideas to be heard Making members feel good about their contribution to the meeting Making sure the group feels that the ideas and decisions are theirs, not just the leader's. Supporting everyone's ideas and not criticizing anyone for what they've said.

Can anyone learn to facilitate a meeting? To put it another way, facilitating actually means: Understanding the goals of the meeting and the organization Keeping the group on the agenda and moving forward Involving everyone in the meeting, including drawing out the quiet participants and controlling the domineering ones Making sure that decisions are made democratically How do you plan a good facilitation process? In planning a good meeting process, a facilitator focuses on: Climate and Environment Logistics and Room Arrangements Ground Rules A good facilitator will make plans in each of these areas in advance.

Climate and Environment There are many factors that impact how safe and comfortable people feel about interacting with each other and participating. Key questions you would ask yourself as a facilitator include: Is the location a familiar place, one where people feel comfortable? Face it, if you're planning to have an interactive meeting sitting around a conference table in the Mayor's office, some of your folks might feel intimidated and out of their environment.

A comfortable and familiar location is key. Is the meeting site accessible to everyone? If not, have you provided for transportation or escorts to help people get to the site? Psychologically, if people feel that the site is too far from them or in a place they feel is "dangerous," it may put them off from even coming. If they do come, they may arrive with a feeling that they were not really wanted or that their needs were not really considered.

This can put a real damper on communication and participation. Is the space the right size? If you're wanting to make a planning group feel that it's a team, a large meeting hall for only 10 or 15 people can feel intimidating and make people feel self-conscious and quiet. On the other hand, if you're taking a group of 30 folks through a meeting, a small conference room where people are uncomfortably crunched together can make for disruption: This can cause a real break in the mood and feeling of your meeting or planning session.

You want folks to stay focused and relaxed. Logistics and Room Arrangements Believe it or not: Some things to consider are: Having chairs in a circle or around a table encourages discussion, equality, and familiarity. Speaker's podiums and lecture style seating make people feel intimidated and formal. Avoid them at all costs. Places to hang newsprint: You may be using a lot of newsprint or other board space during your meeting.

Can you use tape without damaging the walls? Is an easel available? Is there enough space so that you can keep important material visible instead of removing it? Is there a table for folks to use? Grumbling stomachs will definitely take folks minds off the meeting. If you're having refreshments, who is bringing them?

Do you need outlets for coffee pots? Can you set things up so folks can get food without disrupting the meeting? And who's cleaning up afterwards? Microphones and audio visual equipment: Do you need a microphone? Can someone set up and test the equipment before you start? Ground Rules Most meetings have some kind of operating rules.

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Common ground rules are: One person speaks at a time Raise your hand if you have something to say Listen to what other people are saying No mocking or attacking other people's ideas Be on time coming back from breaks if it's a long meeting Respect each other A process to develop ground rules is: Begin by telling folks that you want to set up some ground rules that everyone will follow as we go through our meeting. Put a blank sheet of newsprint on the wall with the heading "Ground Rules.

If no one says anything, start by putting one up yourself. That usually starts people off. Write any suggestions up on the newsprint. It's usually most effective to "check -in" with the whole group before you write up an idea "Sue suggested raising our hands if we have something to say.

When you are finished, ask the group if they agree with these Ground Rules and are willing to follow them.

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Make sure you get folks to actually say "Yes" out loud. It makes a difference! Facilitating a meeting or planning session As we've already said, the facilitator is responsible for providing a "safe" climate and working atmosphere for the meeting. Start the meeting on time Few of us start our meetings on time. Welcome everyone Make a point to welcome everyone who comes.

8 Fun Ways to Start a Meeting That Will Make Your Meetings Engaging and Productive

Make introductions There are lots of ways for people to introduce themselves to each other that are better than just going around the room. Some key questions you can ask members to include in their introductions are: How did you first get involved with our organization?

Break down feelings of unfamiliarity and shyness Help people shift roles--from their "work" selves to their "more human" selves Build a sense of being part of a team Create networking opportunities Help share participants' skills and experiences Some ways to do introductions and icebreakers are: In pairs, have people turn to the person next to them and share their name, organization and three other facts about themselves that others might not know. Then, have each pair introduce each other to the group. This helps to get strangers acquainted and for people to feel safe--they already know at least one other person, and didn't have to share information directly in front of a big group at the beginning of the meeting.

Form small groups and have each of them work on a puzzle. Have them introduce themselves to their group before they get to work.

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This helps to build a sense of team work. In a large group, have everyone write down two true statements about themselves and one false one. Then, every person reads their statements and the whole group has to guess which one is false. This helps folks get acquainted and relaxed. Give each participant a survey and have the participants interview each other to find the answers.

Make the questions about skills, experience, opinions on the issue you'll be working on, etc. When everyone is finished, have folks share the answers they got. When doing introductions and icebreakers, it's important to remember: Every participant needs to take part in the activity. The only exception may be latecomers who arrive after the introductions are completed. At the first possible moment, ask the latecomers to say their name and any other information you feel they need to share in order for everyone to feel comfortable and equal.

Be sensitive to the culture, age, gender and literacy levels of participants and any other factors when deciding how to do introductions.

For example, an activity that requires physical contact or reading a lengthy instruction sheet may be inappropriate for your group. Also, keep in mind what you want to accomplish with the activity. Don't make a decision to do something only because it seems like fun. It is important to make everyone feel welcome and listened to at the beginning of the meeting. Otherwise, participants may feel uncomfortable and unappreciated and won't participate well later on.

Also, if you don't get some basic information about who is there, you may miss some golden opportunities. For example, the editor of the regional newspaper may be in the room; but if you don't know, you'll miss the opportunity for a potential interview or special coverage. And don't forget to introduce yourself. You want to make sure that you establish some credibility to be facilitating the meeting and that folks know a bit about you.

Credibility doesn't mean you have a college degree or 15 years of facilitation experience. It just means that you share some of your background so folks know why you are doing the facilitation and what has led you to be speaking up. Review the agenda, objectives and ground rules for the meeting Go over what's going to happen in the meeting. Encourage participation This is one of your main jobs as a facilitator.

Stick to the agenda Groups have a tendency to wander far from the original agenda, sometimes without knowing it. Seek commitments Getting commitments for future involvement is often a meeting goal. Bring closure to each item Many groups will discuss things ten times longer than they need to unless a facilitator helps them to recognize they're basically in agreement. Respect everyone's rights The facilitator protects the shy and quiet folks in a meeting and encourages them to speak out.

8 Fun Ways to Start a Meeting That Will Make Your Meetings Engaging and Productive - Minute

Summarize the meeting results and needed follow-ups Before ending the meeting, summarize the key decisions that were made and what else happened. Thank the participants Take a minute to thank people who prepared things for the meeting, set up the room, brought refreshments, or did any work towards making the meeting happen. Close the meeting People appreciate nothing more than a meeting that ends on time! Facilitator skills and tips Here are a few more points to remember that will help to maximize your role as a facilitator: Don't memorize a script Even with a well-prepared agenda and key points you must make, you need to be flexible and natural.

Watch the group's body language Are people shifting in their seats? Always check back with the group Be careful about deciding where the meeting should go. Summarize and pause When you finish a point or a part of the meeting process, sum up what was done and decided, and pause for questions and comments before moving on. Be aware of your own behavior Take a break to calm down if you feel nervous or are losing control.

Occupy your hands Hold onto a marker, chalk, or the back of a chair. Don't play with the change in your pocket!

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Watch your speech Be careful you are not offending or alienating anyone in the group. Use body language of our own Using body language to control the dynamics in the room can be a great tool. Don't talk to the newsprint, blackboard or walls--they can't talk back! Always wait until you have stopped writing and are facing the group to talk. Preventions and interventions Along with these tips on facilitation, there are some things you can do both to prevent disruption before it occurs to stop it when it's happening in the meeting.