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Without effective leadership, you can win the agenda but lose the meeting. Meeting competence demands that you take responsibility to prevent collective incompetence.

For example, do not allow ‘showboating’ and meetings within meetings. Additionally, consider the following suggestions to improve meeting competence.

Meeting Competence Considers . . .

9 Tips Proven to Increase Meeting Competence and Output Quality

Meeting Competence is the Method

  1. Acronyms and BuzzWords—Create a visual legend for cryptic terms. Participants assume that others understand everything they say. We may not but we do need a facilitator to help validate acronyms and buzzwords.
  2. Competition—do not allow participants to play political games. Keep them focused on the deliverable of each question, agenda item, and meeting result.
  3. Different Agendas—ensure participants that you know where you are and where you are going and do not permit competing agendas that cause scope creep and meetings that go out of control.
  4. Distractions—the guiding principle for every facilitator is to remove distractions so that the group can focus on the issue at hand. Distractions range from creature comfort (eg, temperature) to cultural (eg, electronic leashes such as smart phones).
  5. Impotent Members—many meetings involve people who are brought in to observe, rather than contribute. If so, separate them physically by seating them in the back or around the perimeter.
  6. Miscommunicationslisten, observe, clarify, and confirm. Need we say more?
  7. Outside Pressures—get to know your participants and some of the issues that drive their thinking and behavior. Complete your assessment before the meeting begins. You cannot conduct personality profiling during a meeting and be an effective listener at the same time.
  8. Personal Feelings—as a neutral facilitator, depersonalize issues that arise and have others focus on performance, not the people.
  9. Triviality—do not allow your participants to dive too deep in the weeds and talk about HOW, when most discussions should focus on WHAT needs to be different. If strategic issues (ie, WHY) arise, set them aside for a different forum.

Meeting Competence May Demand that Less is Better

With meetings, less can be more. Holding unnecessary meetings can undermine your reputation. Do not confuse or substitute meetings for work. As a meeting participant, never attend yourself without knowing what you want to accomplish during the meeting and what you need to take out of it. As we say repeatedly and illustrate as the title of the MG RUSH meeting competence holarchy, know what “DONE” looks like. Your meeting competence will follow.


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.)

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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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