Print Friendly, PDF & Email

To effectively control your meetings to finish meetings faster (ahead of schedule) requires effort that begins long before your meeting starts.

We call the preparation period 7:59 work, as in before 8:00AM. After the meeting starts, you can further accelerate group performance by serving your group as an effective process police person.  While the role of facilitator mandates core skills such as clear rhetoric, detailed questions, constant observance, and rigid neutrality, the facilitator’s role also demands control of the meeting agenda so that you finish meetings faster.

A Deliverable for Every Step

To Finish Meetings Faster Requires Explaining the White Space

Finish Meetings Faster by Explaining the WHY and HOW Behind the WHAT

The agenda is the roadmap by which the team advances from the start of the meeting (ie., metaphorically “8:00AM”) to the end (ie., metaphorically “5:00PM”).  Solid, simple agendas do not include verbs. Verbs are work and nobody wants more work (eg, “identify”, “define”, etc.) any more than nobody wants more meetings.  Yet we meet frequently, because we need deliverables. Each agenda step has its own deliverable that adds up to help you finish meetings faster.

Describe the deliverable for each step as the object (ie, a noun) or objective of the step.  For example, use “Key Measurements” instead of “Identifying Key Measurements.” The verb “Identifying” describes HOW we get the objectives of the step, and HOW we do it has more than one right answer.

As facilitator, explain HOW, and more importantly WHY, each step in the agenda contributes. Notice that the object of the step is WHAT DONE LOOKS LIKE.  Meeting participants can read the agenda (best to keep it posted) and seldom need to be reminded WHAT we need, but do need to be reinforced WHY it is important and HOW we are going to get there. WHY objects are posted on the agenda captures the white space, or space between the lines, and demands further explanation.

Explain the White Space

We have all been in a meeting when someone, usually an outlier, asks “Now WHY are we doing this?”  Ever feel the oxygen get sucked out of the room?  An effective facilitator anticipates that question and slows down during agenda transitions, a maneuver that is counter-intuitive to most who state “Let me review this quickly.”

The Tuckman Model suggests that groups, even high-performance teams, are subject to regression when transitioning from one step in your agenda to another. Be forewarned, transitions are the best time to slow down and carefully explain the white space:

  1. WHY did we build the output from the prior agenda step?
  2. HOW does it help us get out of this meeting faster; ie, how does it relate to the meeting deliverable?
  3. WHAT are we going to do next?
  4. WHY are we doing it and HOW does it help us get out of this meeting faster; ie, how does it support the meeting deliverable?
  5. WHY are the agenda items in the sequence provided?

Carefully explain the white space by answering the questions above and you will discover that your meetings finish meetings faster than ever.


Don’t ruin your career or reputation with bad meetings. Register for a class or forward this to someone who should. Taught by world-class instructors, MG RUSH  professional facilitation curriculum focuses on practice. Each student thoroughly practices and rehearses tools, methods, and approaches throughout the week. While some call this immersion, we call it the road to building impactful facilitation skills.

Our courses also provide an excellent way to earn up to 40 SEUs from the Scrum Alliance, 40 PDUs from PMI, and 40 CDUs from IIBA, as well as 3.2 CEUs for other professions. (See individual class descriptions for details.)

Want a free 10-minute break timer? Signup for our once-monthly newsletter HERE and receive a timer along with four other of our favorite facilitation tools, free.


Facilitation Expert

Terrence Metz, CSM, PSPO, CSPF, is the Managing Director of MG RUSH Facilitation Training and Coaching, the acknowledged leader in structured facilitation training. His FAST Facilitation Best Practices 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.

Visit Our Website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.