|Re: Meeting strategies?||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: Nancy Wight (wightwal.hp.com)|
|Date: Wed, 1 Jun 94 10:55 CDT|
Rob asked: > As part of our on-going process in search of the perfect meeting we > (sharingwood) is gathering info on effective meeting strategies. I > would greatly appreciate a brief summary of how you and yours conduct a > typical meeting. We have a standard format for our meetings, from which we deviate occasionally. It goes something like this: Agenda Review - < 5 minutes (usually about 30 seconds). The steering committee sets the agenda prior to each meeting. The agenda review gives everyone a chance to see what will be discussed, and add or delete something as it seems appropriate. Assignments - At the beginning of each meeting, we request volunteers for 1) a notetaker, 2) a timekeeper, 3) a facilitator for the *next* meeting. We have a facilitator for every meeting - we try to have someone who is not presenting anything. Check-in - Similar to what others have described on this list. Everyone gets approx. 30 seconds to 2 minutes (depending on the agenda for the rest of the meeting) to say anything they want - usually how things are going in their lives, interesting tidbits, etc. This serves to focus everyone's energy and to connect with each other. We pass around a watch with a second hand - the person who just checked-in keeps track of the time and hands the person currently checking in the watch when their time is up. The time limit is not strictly enforced (i.e. you don't have to stop talking in the middle of a sentence!) but we found this necessary to keep the meetings on schedule. Of course, if someone has something particularly important, heart- wrenching, etc. to say, we usually go with the flow and give that person more time. We reserve more lengthy check-ins for special meetings or retreats (more on that later). Business - Usually a discussion about a proposal that has been brought to the group by a committee. This can take many forms. Some of the follwing formats have worked well for us: 1) Brainstorming - Usually used for giving a committee ideas so that they can go off and write a proposal. Everyone says ideas, "popcorn" style and someone writes them on a white board or large sheets of paper. 2) "Go round" - This is used when we need to get everyones feelings or opinions about a particular topic. It is also used as a release for people who just need to be heard and listened to. We sometimes "pass the watch" during go 'rounds. 3) Small groups - When we don't have time for a go 'round (takes a minimum 25 minutes), or the issue is too uncomfortable for some to discuss in the whole group, we break up into small groups to discuss it and someone takes notes. Sometimes a member of each group summarizes the discussion for the larger group. 4) "Fishbowl" - This is perhaps our most intense format. It is used when there is a particularly difficult issue being discussed, and there are usually some people who feel very strongly on both sides of an issue. 4-6 people sit on the floor in a circle within the larger circle. They each make their point and there may be a little discussion. When someone in the center feels they have said what they need to, and have been heard, they get up and go to the outside circle, then someone else takes their place in the center. The rest of the group listens intently to the folks in the middle. I think this works very well, and sometimes takes less time than a go 'round because usually only those who really need to say something do. 5) Discussion - sometimes we just have a regular old discussion. For example, our architect comes to the meeting and goes over a new site plan and people ask questions. Announcements - Usually about 10 minutes. Break - 5-10 minutes (the first thing to go when the schedule gets tight!) More business Check-out - if there's time. Lately, we have only had time for either check in *or* check out, but not both. People tend to want a check out after a particularly difficult discussion. Sometimes, during the course of a meeting, it becomes clear that we need more time on a particular issue. The facilitator makes that judgement call and asks the group to consider dropping one of the other agenda items. Unfortunately, we don't have it together to get info to people who missed the meeting. No one is willing to make copies, send them out, etc, as most people are already doing overtime with committee work and meetings. This is definitely an area for improvement. We *do* have a phone tree, however, to let people know about something they need to bring to a meeting, a change of schedule, important news, etc. About once or twice a year (more often when we were smaller!) we all go off to a retreat somewhere for a weekend or a Saturday and spend time playing together and discussing less business and more vision-related topics. We also use this time for everyone to get to know everyone else better and to play with the kids. At our last retreat, we had an exercise where we made the room into a mini site plan. We built our community in the room, and then asked people to pretend like they were living there and do the things they envision themselves doing once they move in. People got into it, and right away, we could see who was going to be hanging out in the common house ;-) Oops, you asked for a *brief* summary. But this *is* brief-there's a lot I left out! :-) - Nancy --
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