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CBC Interviews The Meeting Doctor: Beyond Agendas: Designing An Effective Meeting Process

February 18, 2015 4:04 pm

Welcome to the final instalment in a series of articles that explore Collaboration Architect, Michael Goldman’s must-do’s for meeting success. For those of you who missed our earlier articles let’s take a look at the interview:

In this post we’re going to take a look at Michael’s last tip for leading meetings that work – designing a step-by-step process to structure your meeting. We get a lot of pushback from busy professionals who say they don’t have time to create a detailed process, and besides, won’t an agenda do the trick? Why add any additional steps when the agenda lets everyone know what we’re covering and in what order?

We absolutely agree that an agenda is invaluable for meeting participants, but it’s just not enough for the meeting leader. An agenda doesn’t describe the steps required to achieve each item, so meeting leaders tend to default to their tried and true techniques for idea generation or decision making instead of considering which tools best fit the needs of the topic and the attendees. Creating a more detailed meeting process also gives the facilitator time to consider potential pitfalls that may otherwise derail the meeting. Designing a meeting process also allows the facilitator to assess the practicality of the meeting outcomes given the time allotted. Leading a meeting with a structured process means defining step-by-step activities that define ‘HOW’ the ‘WHAT’ of the meeting is to be accomplished.  The design includes scripting, questions, exercise instructions and bridging statements that enable the facilitator to be more specific on timing and on target – clearly a value add to participants who hate going over time or off topic!

The good news is that if you’ve been following this series of posts, you’re well on your way to designing great meeting processes, with key pieces like the meeting POP, understanding the requirements of decision-making and getting norms in place. But how do you capture your meeting process in a fast and efficient way? We suggest our POParts template which is typically for the facilitator’s eyes only. It’s your recipe for running each aspect of the meeting.  To get our template please click here (Rody, please link to the Word version of our template).

Since our focus is on meeting process in this blog, let’s explore the A.R.T.S. – or Activity, Result, Time and Steps in a bit more detail…

The first column, Activity, is where you capture in a few keywords what the meeting participants will be engaging in. Examples could include ‘Mapping the Current Accounts Payable Process’ or ‘Identifying the Best Back-Up Alternatives.’ The final list of Activities is often used to create the meeting agenda, which is given to all attendees pre-meeting. The next column, Result, identifies WHAT the meeting participants will have achieved by the end of the activity. For our two activity examples above, results could be ‘a shared understanding of how we manage and pay vendors’ and ‘a short, high-quality list of potential back-up options to present to the leadership team.’ Time captures how many minutes the group will need to complete each step of the activity. Steps explicitly detail each part of the activity, including scripted introductions, questions and tools to use – all in sequence to help manage the logical flow of the meeting.

So go ahead, add a little more structure to your meetings. We guarantee that the planning time will pay off in the boardroom.




Who is The Meeting Doctor?
What is Meeting Facilitation?
Ep.1: Am I Being Set Up For Failure?
Ep. 2: How to Deal with Off-Topic Remarks
Ep. 3: Seven Tips on How to Maintain Neutrality
Ep.4 How to Proactively Manage Group Conflict


Do you have any topics you’d like to see covered in one of our video blogs? Let us know!