When your meeting is a flop…

Have you ever left a meeting feeling it was a failure? Was it the design, the dynamics, the people? By coincidence, today I was in a morning session with a community of practice for facilitators and the first prompt was about how you know when you are in a group that is grooving. Having recently experienced a not-so-groovy meeting, this got me thinking about what I can do to change the experience from failure to ‘grooving’. Here are a few thoughts:  

For the facilitator: 

  1. Opening and closing meetings helps to create a space for work. Don’t rush it and don’t forget the closing (even if it’s a quick round)! 
  2. Connection is key. Ensure space and time for discussion in pairs and threes. 
  3. Remember the introverts. Allow time for thinking or individual writing. 
  4. Plan for managing personalities, power dynamics, and psychological safety. 
  5. Clarity of instructions supports the outcome. Be clear about what you are looking for in each part of your agenda (perhaps its input or simply acknowledgement).
  6. Capture next steps visually. It’s helpful for everyone to see and agree on the action points (and suggest edits if needed in the moment). 
  7. Use the meeting agreements. Generating them is one thing however ensuring they are put into practice is another. 
  8. Ensure a break, even if brief. 

For the participants: 

  1. Engage. Attend the meeting with the intention to participate. 
  2. Show up early so the meeting can start on time. 
  3. Speak up if you can’t hear or see something so people know in the room (or online). Hybrid is still a challenge. This is especially true if using unfamiliar rooms and equipment.
  4. Read the agenda in advance and provide early input. 
  5. Support your colleagues and fellow meeting participants with positive body language, active listening, and respect. 
  6. Have fun. We are all in this together!  

I would love to hear your ideas! Share your best tips (especially for tricky teams) and let’s have more great meetings please. 

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