SEPTEMBER THEME: Meetings that Matter
Mission #29 – How to Plan & Prepare with Purpose
Mission #30 – Lead the Way: Facilitation Strategies for Meeting Leaders
Mission #31 – Presence: Taking ownership & Being Accountable for How YOU Show up in Meetings
MAKE 3 CHANGES™ MONDAY MISSION #30: Meetings that Matter: Lead the Way – Facilitation Strategies for Meeting Leaders
“We are always interrupting each other.”
“They are always jumping in at inappropriate times or taking us off track.”
“I’m never sure when I am supposed to contribute or speak up and when I do, I’m usually reprimanded in some way or ignored.”
“I keep getting mixed signals about the purpose of these meetings.”
Do any of these statements sound familiar to you?
When people are talking out of turn, interrupting and taking the group off on tangents it’s usually because they don’t have faith in the process or the leader that they will be given an opportunity to contribute, to speak up or to get their questions answered.
Whether you are the meeting leader or a meeting attendee, not knowing when and how to speak up can have a negative impact on the dynamics of your group and the quality of your outcomes.
My husband, a military officer, has a sweatshirt he wears from time to time that always gets my attention. It says Lead, Follow or Get out of the Way. That one phrase has really helped to shape and inform my philosophy about facilitating groups and leading meetings. People generally want to do a good job, they sometimes need a little help with structure and process to understand how to show up in a productive and constructive way.
Your MAKE 3 CHANGES™ Monday Mission this week is to Make 3 Changes to the way you LEAD and FACILITATE the meetings you lead or attend.
What 3 Changes are you willing to make to improve the flow and the engagement of an upcoming meeting?
1. Declare it and Share it! (Your desired outcomes, that is.)
From the outset of the meeting, make it clear what the focus and purpose of the meeting is. Clarity is a great tool for helping people to quiet the noise in their head, and therefore, the noise they may generate in the meeting. Let people know there will be time to ask questions that help the group move towards the desired outcomes. And then ask THEM what THEIR expectations are for the outcomes of the meeting. Add them to your list, if appropriate. If not, relegate them to the parking lot (see #3).
2. Create Space.
Take special care to leave enough room to discuss important issues and move quickly through more trivial matters. Structure the agenda so the most important things get handled early on and are given the space they need to be fully discussed. A typical 60 minute meeting could include 2 major areas of focus for 20 minutes each, leaving an additional 20 minutes at the end you could borrow from if needed. And, if you get to the desired outcomes, decisions or actions before the meeting is scheduled to end, END THE MEETING. No need to linger to fill the space. In fact, you may even decide to cut your meetings by 20 minutes to help people self-regulate the amount of noise and chatter they bring into the space.
3. The Power of the Parking Lot.
At this point, you’ve declared and shared your desired outcomes, solicited expectations and given people a sense of how you’ll proceed. You’ve created space for people to ask questions and given them the clarity they need to ask questions that are designed to move towards those desired outcomes. And yet, someone will still ask “that” question that goes off topic or takes the group into an unwelcomed or unnecessary tangent. That’s when you invite them to put that in the “parking lot.” A flip chart or a whiteboard, a post-it or a piece of paper – whatever works for your group. This is the place where questions that are out of scope and are not moving the group forward go. Then, you redirect the group back to your stated objectives and desired outcomes and make a plan to address the other questions outside of the meeting.
Sometimes diversions help you get to a place even better than you originally intended. You’ll usually know the difference between a delightful diversion and a distracting one. Trust your instincts. Pay attention to the energy and momentum in the room. LEAD. FACILITATE. Enjoy the results!
Congratulations! If you integrate these changes or enhance the way you are currently using them, I predict you will get far better results and have much more productive and engaging meetings.
Share your Success Stories. Have some success with these strategies? I would love to hear from you! Let me know what worked and the difference it made!
Send in your meeting questions and challenges! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you may be featured in an upcoming newsletter, video or Make 3 Changes Monday mission. We can even make it anonymous!
What is Make 3 Changes™?
Make 3 Changes™ is a framework designed to help leaders move forward during times of change, challenge and opportunity. For more information about the Make 3 Changes™ framework and how you can use it to navigate changes in your world with more clarity, confidence and commitment, email me.
What are the Make 3 Changes™ Monday Missions?
These weekly missions are designed to get you thinking differently about various aspects of your life. Each month will feature several missions within a theme, helping you to build awareness, create alignment and take action. It is my hope they provide you with the tools you need to create positive and lasting change in your life, the lives of those you love, those you lead and those you serve. Always open to feedback about your experience. Let’s have some fun and make some changes!
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