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MG RUSH alumni know that the single most important ingredient to meeting and workshop success is thorough preparation. Because, there is no “silver bullet” to save a session leader who is ill prepared.

The most important activity while preparing for a meeting is to know where you are going—ie, ‘What is the deliverable?’ The next most important activity is interviewing participants and begin managing their expectations along with their need to arrive ready to contribute and be productive.

Method for Interviewing Participants 

Interview participants to understand as much as possible about them, the people they work with, and their business. Therefore, speak with all the participants, preferably one-on-one for about 30 minutes each. Speak with each face-to-face, or at least by way of a teleconference.

Sequence for Interviewing Participants 

Best Method for Interviewing Participants Before Your Meetings and Workshops

Interviewing Participants for Meetings and Workshops

First meet the executive sponsor, the business partners, the project team, and then the participants. After that, keep your interviews around twenty to thirty minutes each. Moreover, conduct the interviews privately and assure participants that their responses will be kept CONFIDENTIAL.

Objectives of Interviewing Participants  

Interview the participants to advance understanding:

  • Become familiar with their job, their business, and their expectations
  • Confirm who should, or should not, attend and why
  • Help them show up better prepared to contribute
  • Identify potential issues, hidden agendas, and other obstacles
  • Identify scheduling conflicts and other concerns
  • Transfer ownership of the meeting purpose, scope, and deliverables

Questions for Interviewing Participants

Therefore, the following are well-sequenced questions that you should ask. Begin each interview explaining your role and the purpose of the interview. Ask for permission to take notes. Use open-ended questions, sit back, and listen to the person—discover their value and value add to the initiative you are supporting.

  • “What do you expect from the session?”
  • “What will make the workshop a complete failure?”
  • “For you, what should the output look like?”
  • “What problems do you foresee?”
  • “Who should attend the workshop? Who should not? Why?”
  • “What is going to be my biggest obstacle?”
  • “How does the deliverable and agenda make sense to you?”
  • “What should I have asked that I didn’t ask?”

Focus When Interviewing Participants

The precision and sequence of the questions is important. They are all open-ended. They help manage “right-to-left” thinking; ie, ‘expect’ and ‘output.’ Next they focus on the hidden politics; ie, ‘failure,’ ‘problems,’ and ‘obstacles.’ They end with a strong, closing question that emphasizes the humility of the role of facilitator.

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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.

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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.

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