Most of us have sat in a meeting or two that, well, was a complete waste of time. Often times the facilitator is to blame for these mind numbing experiences.
That is the bad news. The good news is it doesn’t have to be like this. Tonight I will offer up some tips to help us all run better meetings. No matter where your meeting is (e.g. work, your kid’s school, church, etc.) these tips should serve you well.
- Use SPACER. If you only follow one tip from this post this is the one.
- Get a flip chart and use it. Don’t worry about conserving paper either. Write big and when you fill up a page tear it off and hang it on the wall. Flip charts are better than white erase boards since you can save the paper for reference.
- Stay neutral. As the facilitator you need to stay as neutral as possible allowing others to really participate. Just remember that if during a 6 person meeting everyone always agrees… you have 5 too many people attending.
- Play ping pong. A good facilitator is one who runs a meeting like they are playing a game of ping pong. Someone will lob an idea at the facilitator seeking approval to which the facilitator lobs the idea right back with a question or comment. The goal of this ping pong game is to generate super strong ideas and team consensus.
- Listen, really listen. For us guys this is hard. But there is a time to talk and a time to shut up and listen while actually looking at the person talking to you.
- Summarize. Throughout the meeting remind the participants what has been accomplished by restating things a bit. Also, if any ideas or solutions have been discussed summarize those as well. It’s also a good idea to revisit the agenda to see how things are progressing during this summarization process.
- Use the Parking Lot. The parking lot is simply a flip chart paper used to capture “off topic” items or possibly questions the group doesn’t know the answer to. Never allow a meeting to stall for off topic items.
- Standing Room Only. If you really want to ratchet things up a notch remove all the chairs and have your next meeting standing up. Chances are it will be far more effective. In some Japanese companies there are no chairs anywhere – even at desks!
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