The life-cycle of a meeting or workshop has three steps (ie, Get Ready, Do It, and Review). Within each meeting, these three steps need to be carefully managed to ensure success. All agendas should include a beginning, a middle, and an end. Many meetings fail because they neglect to include all three steps. Even a lousy book or movie includes a beginning, a middle, and an end. Make sure you begin with a solid meeting introduction.

Launching Your Meeting Introduction

Manage (and rehearse) your meeting introductions carefully. You want to make sure that your participants feel that their meeting has clear purpose and impact. Remember, to use the integrative and plural first person of ‘we’ or ‘us’ and avoid the singular ‘I’ so that you can begin to transfer responsibility and ownership to the participants since they own the results.

Before you begin your meeting introduction, have your room set-up to visually display the purpose, scope, and deliverable of any workshop. If you cannot convert these three guiding principles into 50 words or less (for each), then you are not ready yet to launch the workshop. Let us repeat, if you do not know what the deliverable looks like, then you do not know what success looks like.

Consider displaying the purpose, scope, and deliverable on large Post-It® paper, along with a set of ground rules appropriate to your politics and situation.  The following meeting introduction sequence is typically optimal for a robust start.

How to structure an effective Meeting Introduction

Meeting Introduction Activities

  1. Introduce yourself and stress the importance of your meeting. Stipulate how much money or time is at risk if the meeting fails. Avoid using the word “I” after this moment. It is tough to drop the ego, but remain conscious whenever you use the first person singular.
  2. Explain your meeting purpose, scope, and deliverable. Seek assent. Ensure that all the participants can live with them. If not, you probably have the wrong agenda since yours is designed specifically for your deliverable.
  3. Cover any administrivia to clear participants’ heads from thinking about themselves, especially their creature comfort. Explain how to locate lavatories, fire extinguishers, emergency exits, and other stuff particular to your situation.
  4. Review the agenda and carefully explain the logic behind the sequence of your steps. Explain how steps relate to each other. Link agenda steps back to the deliverable so that participants envision how completing each agenda step feeds content into the deliverable.
  5. Share ground rules (not more than six to eight). Supplement your narrative posting of ground rules with audio-visual support, including humorous clips, but keep it brief. See your FAST alumni site for some wonderful downloads.
  6. For a kick-off, have your executive sponsor explain the importance of participants’ contributions and what management intends to accomplish. Consider a quick project update. However, do not allow the update or executive sponsor to take more than five minutes. Your meeting is not a mini-Town Hall meeting (unless it actually is).

NOTE:

For multiple day workshops, cover the same items at the start of subsequent days (except kickoff). Additionally, review content that was built or agreed upon the day(s) before and how it relates to progress made in the agenda.

After the Meeting Introduction – The Middle

After your meeting introduction, the agenda steps between the Introduction and Wrap comprise the middle steps. Our other posts focus on what you can do between the introduction and wrap to build, decide, and prioritize issues. We also provide a separate blog that deals exclusively with a robust approach to the Wrap-up. See How to Manage the Parking Lot and Wrap-up Meetings for HOW TO manage the end of a meting or workshop.

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Finally, MG RUSH professional facilitation curriculum focuses on providing methodology. Each student thoroughly practices methodology and tools before class concludes. Some call this immersion. We call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Become Part of the Solution While You Improve Your Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology Skills

Take a class or forward this to someone who should. MG RUSH Professional Facilitation Training provides an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, 40 CDUs from IIBA, and 3.2 CEUs. As a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF), our Professional Facilitation Training aligns with IAF Certification Principles and fully prepares alumni for their Certified Professional Facilitator designation.

Furthermore, our Professional Facilitation curriculum immerses students in the responsibilities and dynamics of an effective facilitator and methodologist. Because nobody is smarter than everybody, attend an MG RUSH Professional Facilitation, Leadership, and Methodology workshop offered around the world, see MG RUSH for a current schedule.

Go to the Facilitation Training Store to access our in-house resources. You will discover numerous annotated agendas, break timers, and templates. Finally, take a few seconds to buy us a cup of coffee and please SHARE.

In conclusion, we dare you to embrace the will, wisdom, and activities that amplify a facilitative leader.

Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Monthly Facilitation blog features over 300 articles on facilitation skills and tools aimed at helping others lead faster, more productive meetings and workshops that yield higher quality decisions. His clients include Agilists, Scrum teams, program and project managers, senior officers, and the business analyst community among numerous private and public companies and global corporations. As an undergraduate of Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and MBA graduate from NWU’s Kellogg School of Management, his professional experience has focused on process improvement and product development. He continually aspires to make it easier for others to succeed.

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6 Comments

  1. An example of the deliverables of a meeting is probably helpful. Maybe you can update your article to include one?

    Additionally, I thought there will be something like “The End”, after “The beginning” and “The middle”.

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