10 Tips for Good Meeting Design

10 Tips for Good Meeting Design

in Facilitator Resources, Facilitation Tips

1. A good meeting requires good planning.

Well run and effective meetings require a lot of planning. A typical meeting model is: 10% Planning; 80% Meeting; 10% Follow-up. A much more effective model is 50% Planning; 20% Meeting; 30% Follow-up.

2. Three essential ingredients to designing an effective meeting.

First focus on the substance of the meeting: the objectives and desired outcomes. Agree with the meeting owner where things are now and where you want to go. Second, consider the people: who needs to be there and what they bring, group dynamics, participation and possible resistance. Then select the collaboration tools that will help you make it all happen.

3. Set measures of success for your meeting.

Begin with the end in mind and work with your meeting sponsor to set measures of success for your meetings. These include meeting objectives and specific outcomes, level of interaction and participation, level of participant satisfaction, effectiveness of communication given and received, time management and technology. Measures help set realistic expectations and drive conversation about what to do differently next time.

4. Identify who needs to be at which meeting.

Invite the minimum number of people needed to accomplish your objectives. Determine what role each person has to play. Look for opportunities to get some people’s input ahead of the meeting so that your session has the smallest number of critical participants.

5. The 4 "P"s: Purpose, People, Process and Progress.

Design your meeting with these questions in mind: "How will we know if this meeting is successful?" "Who really needs to be at this meeting"? "How are we going to make it work?" "What have we learned as a result of this meeting"?

6. Establish responsibilities of the meeting owner.

The role of the meeting owner or sponsor is critical to the success of your meeting. The sponsor should define the meeting objectives and desired outcomes and determine who should participate and why their contributions are valuable. He or she should provide background information and work with the facilitator to design and conduct the meeting. Finally, he or she should keep an eye on meeting deliverables, confirm the group is on track, and ensure the next steps are completed

7. Establish responsibilities with meeting participants.

Meeting participants also have an important role to play in the success of your meeting. They need to be prepared to be involved in the meeting and to provide open and honest input. They need to be ready to speak out as well as listen to and consider the ideas of others . A guiding principle is: Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. Participants should remember to focus on why they are present and work to achieve the desired outcome. Finally, participants must be ready to take responsibility for next steps and implementation.

8. Use pre-meeting activities and instructions to ready participants for a focused agenda.

Pre-meeting activities such as surveys, setting expectations, asking questions, prioritizing agenda items, sharing project updates and other information relevant to the meeting topics help bring participants up to speed before the meeting. This helps you focus meeting time on problem solving and decision making activities.

9. Consider how to handle the discussion for each item on the agenda.

There are several ways to engage your group in discussion. Think about the intended outcome of each agenda item (for e.g:, establishing common ground, generating ideas, prioritizing, decision making) and select the engagement style and tools that fit. For example, going around the table (virtual or not) might work well at the outset for building trust, while using an anonymous brainstorming tool might work well for gathering feedback on a set of issues.

10. Consider post-meeting collaboration as part of your meeting plan.

Extend the boundaries of the meeting to address two objectives: a) Allow people to get information from the meeting even if they're not there (e.g., Webcasting, document archives), and b) Allow people to continue good conversations and connections they establish at the face-to-face meeting (e.g. online discussion topics, conference calls).

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