The following is a guest post about designing well-organized meetings by Miri Zena McDonald, an organization development and communications strategist on a quest to help companies thrive by engaging employees, improving culture and promoting wellness. She tweets at @miri_orgchange.
Top 10 Tips for Designing a Productive (and fun!) Meeting
Why have the meeting?
Get clear on purpose and outcomes first!
Who needs to be there?
Confirm with meeting owner that all stakeholders are invited to ensure a key individual or group is not left out of decisions. Or worse, meeting cannot move forward because individual is not present.
- Is there baggage? Gain understanding of relationships among participants. Do they know each other? Are there any personality conflicts or rifts? Do they enjoy working together? Is this the first meeting? This will help shape the way you design exercises, if you decide to have a team building exercise, the need for ice breakers, and what to be prepared for when you facilitate (if there will be arguments).
- What is success? A few weeks before the meeting, interview meeting owners and key participants to gather criteria for success
- How can you engage them? Be creative when developing exercises to engage people in different ways and accomplish outcomes.
- How can you get them to talk? Develop a list of open-ended questions to engage discussions.
- What are the rules? Develop a clear list of rules for the meeting such as keeping discussions confidential, being respectful during debate, no cell phones, etc.
- Can technology enhance the experience? Consider using tools that can enhance the experience such as conversation mapping software that allows for tracking the discussion or anonymous voting tools that can capture quick real-time votes.
- What’s the physical space like? Ask to see the space before your meeting happens so you can decide the layout for the chairs/tables in advance. If it’s possible, ask if you can help choose the room based on your design preferences.
- What treats are you going to bring? Have food, snacks, and candy! People need energy to keep going during these sessions and feel cared for when you take the time and spend a little money to provide good coffee and a variety of healthy foods. Provide water, caffeine free options, and don’t forget the vegetarians!
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