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 codify these three statements into 50 words or less (for each), then you are not ready yet to launch your 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 introductory sequence is typically optimal for a robust start.
Meeting Introduction Activities
- 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.
- 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 your agenda is designed specifically for your deliverable.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 the MG RUSH alumni site for some wonderful downloads.
- 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).
For multiple-day workshops, cover the same items at the start of subsequent days (except kickoff). Additionally, review content 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 articles focus on what you can do between the introduction and wrap to build, decide, and prioritize issues. We also provide a detailed article that provides a thorough approach to the Wrap-up. See How to Manage the Parking Lot and Wrap-up Meetings for a quick but thorough HOW TO manage the end of your meeting or workshop.
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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