Facilitation on the Fly Our Checklist of Meeting Prep “Must Do’s”

May 19, 2016 6:18 pm

How does the current demand to “do more with less” negatively affect meeting facilitators?

How can we counteract these effects?

Two of the biggest obstacles faced by internal facilitators include short notice and competing demands that result in poorly prepared meetings. As staff is being asked to take on more roles and responsibilities, this trend of limited prep time is something we need to tackle head-on.

So, what can you do if you have less than a day’s notice to prepare yourself and participants for an upcoming meeting? Here’s our checklist of non-negotiable prep tasks you need to complete to increase meeting productivity and bolster morale. 

Check the meeting “POP” with your client/boss:

  • Clarify and ratify the meeting Purpose – the why of the meeting
    • The high level reason the meeting is being held
    • Typically is intangible (e.g. To build a sense of ‘team-ness within the department; To ensure clear buy-in for the strategic planning process; )
    • It addresses ‘why we should care about achieving the meeting outcomes?’
  • Clarify/ratify the meetings Outcome(s) – the what of the meeting
    • What will we leave the meeting with? What is the product or result of our discussion?
    • Typically are tangible (e.g. By the end of this meeting we will walk out with: a list of our top 4 strategies… an agreement to … clear solutions for remedying …) although it would not be unusual to see intangible outcomes like ‘we will have better clarity”… a re-energized interest in the project, etc.
  • Describe the meeting Process you’ll use – the how of the meeting
    • Steps/tools used to structure the dialogue for ensuring maximum collaboration and participation
    • Ensuring the design ultimately achieves the agreed to outcomes defined by the key stakeholders
    • Taking into consideration design elements that have worked before with the group in question or are culturally appropriate

All three of the above steps can be achieved in a quick conversation. If time allows, ratify the results by an email exchange outlining the meeting purpose and outcome(s). This can serve as a basis for your meeting process design and is useful in terms of having a paper trail that documents the agreed to scope and objectives for the meeting.

Get Buy-In Pre-Meeting with Participants:

  • Connect with as many participants pre-meeting to ensure they share your client’s perspective on the “real” meeting purpose and potential obstacles
  • Circulate the meeting agenda, which should include:
    • Meeting purpose
    • Meeting outcome(s)
    • Timing (start, end, rough timing of agenda items)

Note: if the agenda is emailed to participants less than four hours prior to the meeting start, call participants to ensure they’ve received and read the agenda.

Some additional tips to add to the Agenda if required:

  • Make the group’s level of empowerment explicit if decision-making is involved
    • Is the group making a decision, providing a recommendation, offering feedback, etc.?
  • State the WIIFM (“what’s in it for me?”) factor if you anticipate any resistance
    • Let participants know why they’ve been invited to the meeting, why they need or want to be there
  • Remind participants of pre-work
    • Given the timeframe, no new “to do’s” should be included; however, a reminder around a report that should have been read or action items that were supposed to be finished is a good idea
  • Advise participants of any logistical issues that may impact the discussion
    • e.g. your company no longer provides coffee and muffins for meeting breaks, so bring a beverage.
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Do you have a unique meeting challenge not covered by one of our blog posts? We’re always looking for different dilemmas to discuss in our articles!