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Great Meetings

Are You a Facilitator?
--- Meetings need facilitators.
--- You could be a facilitator.
--- Skills required to be a facilitator.
--- Staying neutral is important.
--- How to handle multiple roles.

Paying Attention to Group Dynamics
--- The dynamics in your meeting group can impact its success.
--- You need to identify the particular dynamics in your meeting's group.
--- Design your meeting and choose tools to help the group be successful.

Stages of Group Development
--- Groups move through four stages of development.
--- Each stage calls for a different approach from the facilitator.
--- Groups can occasionally circle back through earlier stages.

Is a Meeting Necessary?
--- Don't waste everyone's time, including yours, on unnecessary meetings.
--- If you don't need interaction among people, you don't need a meeting.
--- Telling people something they can read isn't a good reason for a meeting.
--- If you bring people together in a meeting, engage them in a useful activity.

Meeting Purpose and Desired Outcomes
--- A purpose statement should explain why the group is meeting.
--- A clear desired outcome statement defines a specific, tangible accomplishment.
--- A clear purpose and desired outcomes will help keep your meeting on track.

Three Elements of Good Meeting Design
--- Every good meeting needs a clear opening to start off on the right foot.
--- Every good meeting needs a closing to affirm agreements and set next steps.
--- The task of the meeting is all the meat in the middle of the sandwich.
--- It is very messy to eat a sandwich without the bread to hold it together.

Getting Your Meeting Off to a Good Start
--- The meeting opening should get everyone off to a good start.
--- Openings can be short or long, depending on the needs of the group.
--- Openings include: introductions, agenda review, roles, ground rules.
--- Create a "parking lot" -- a place to keep ideas that are important, but off topic.

Clear Ground Rules Support Good Process
--- Ground rules clarify expectations for behavior and procedure.
--- Establishing ground rules up front prevents problems later.
--- The whole group needs to agree to the ground rules.
--- Referring to the ground rules can help solve problems during the meeting.

A Meeting Closing That Leads to Action
--- Be sure everyone has the same understanding of end-of-meeting agreements.
--- Create next steps: make assignments and assign time frames.
--- Celebrate what the group has accomplished.

Completing a Good Closing
--- It is important to learn how to make your next meetings better.
--- Groups need encouragement to see the progress they are making.
--- A group that has worked long and hard together needs a personal closing at the end of the project.

The "Meat" of the Meeting: A 3-Step Process
--- The three steps in most groups' process answer the questions: What is the problem or situation? Where are we going? How can we get there?
--- You can't generate a solution without agreement on the goal and the problem first.

Three Ways to Work With Ideas
--- Generating ideas means creating a list of possibilities without evaluating them.
--- Evaluating ideas means measuring the worth or appropriateness of the ideas.
--- Deciding means coming to a conclusion or agreement on which ideas to choose.
--- You may do all three activities in each step of the process: problem, vision, solution.

Choosing the Right Tools to Achieve Your Meeting Goals
--- Pick a tool that is appropriate for where you are in the process steps.
--- Look for a tool that will generate the type of product you want, the outcome you desire.
--- Find a tool that will be most helpful for your group's characteristics.

Brainstorming: The Basics
--- Brainstorming is a group of tools for generating ideas.
--- There are variations of brainstorming to suit different situations.
--- The key rule in brainstorming is that evaluation is not allowed during the process.

Variations on Brainstorming
--- Pick the variation that best suits the nature of your group.
--- In a group that works easily together, Popcorn Brainstorming is easy.
--- In a group with some quiet people, Subgroup Brainstorming may help.
--- Try One-at-a-Time Brainstorming if you are struggling with a few loud voices that are drowning out the rest.
--- Are participants afraid to raise ideas? Sticky Note Brainstorming protects anonymity.

Graphic Brainstorming: Brain Mapping (Mind Mapping) and Fishbone Diagram
--- Use a visual method of brainstorming to stimulate new ways of thinking.
--- Use brain mapping to break out the steps of a task or pieces of a concern.
--- Use a fishbone diagram to get at the causes of a problem.

Generating Ideas: Picture It!
--- Use "Picture It" during the idea generation portion of a discussion.
--- Use Picture It to look at an issue in a new way, to give group participants an opportunity to express feelings, or to help define a situation that is hard to put into words.
--- Remind the group that this is not an art project: when illustrating ideas, simple figures and symbols are fine.

Analyzing a Situation: SWOT Analysis
--- Use SWOT analysis to determine where a group or organization stands and what it might need to work on in order to get where it wants to go.
--- Create a safe and open environment so people can respond candidly.
--- Make time to reflect on and decide what to do with the results.

Visioning the Ideal: Wish, Want, Wonder
--- Use this tool when you want to change the energy of a group that is stuck in complaining mode.
--- Remind everyone to start every sentence with either "I wish," "I want," or "I wonder."
--- Coach people who are having a hard time switching a negative thought to a more positive one.

Defining the Vision
--- Use the "Defining the Vision" activity to create a specific image of the ideal.
--- Use "brainstorming rules" as participants define their visions.
--- Those uncomfortable with visualization can still join the discussion.
--- Respect and work with differences in vision that emerge.

Evaluating Ideas: Multivoting
--- Use multivoting to narrow down a large list of ideas
--- Make sure everyone is using the same criteria as they vote.
--- Multivoting should not be used to circumvent important differences or conflicts.

Evaluating Ideas: Pick 3 - Drop 3
--- Use Pick 3-Drop 3 as a way to narrow down a list of brainstormed ideas.
--- This method identifies highest and lowest priorities on a list.
--- It's okay to have both red and green marks on any given item/idea.

Evaluating Ideas: Pro - Con Sheet
--- Use a pro-con sheet when looking at the reasons for and against a particular idea or action.
--- Remember to ask for guidance if you are not sure where a person wants to place their comment.
--- Use standard brainstorming rules and practices.

Evaluating Ideas and Deciding: Nominal Group Technique
--- Use the nominal group technique to give each person an equal voice.
--- Invite comments, but not discussion.
--- Don't use the nominal group technique to avoid important differences or conflicts that require group discussion.

Making Decisions: Voting and Super-Majority Voting
--- Use voting when the issue requires a quick, definitive answer, or when it is required by law.
--- Be aware that voting may create disaffected losers.
--- Be sure that the question to be voted on is clearly stated.
--- If the issue is sensitive, use ballots rather than a show of hands or voices.

Making Decisions: Levels of Consensus
--- Using levels of consensus streamlines the group-agreement process.
--- Remember to listen carefully to those who would like to express a concern or a caution.
--- It's a good idea to ask if there is need for further comment or discussion.

Making Decisions: Stoplight Cards and Thumbs Up
--- Use stoplight cards and thumbs up when you want a general understanding of people's viewpoints.
--- These methods are good when you need to move quickly through a decision-making process.
--- "Thumbs up" is good method to use on the spot, because it doesn't require preparation.

Making Decisions: Sharing Your "Sense of the Group"
--- Listen intently to each individual; also listen for any agreement that is building in the group.
--- Don't let your own opinions influence your summary of the sense of the group.
--- Remember to check your summary with the group.
--- Be open to making changes to your summary in response to the group's input and reaction.

Long-Range Planning
--- A group needs good information on which to base its planning, including a strong understanding of the current situation.
--- Next, a group needs to develop and agree on the vision and the goals.
--- A plan for how to achieve the goals needs specific tasks and time frames; a specific person must be responsible for each task.

Maximizing a Group's Potential: Encouraging Participation and Energy
--- To have an open discussion, group members need to be comfortable with one another.
--- Warm-up exercises can help people get better acquainted.
--- Additional exercises can restore and/or renew the group's energy.

Maximizing a Group's Potential: Hearing from Everyone
--- You need to ensure that everyone is getting a chance to speak.
--- Make "space" for everyone by asking each person for his/her idea(s).
--- Give people more "air time" by starting with small groups.

Keeping the Group on Track: Preventative Measures
--- Meetings stay on track best when everyone understands and agrees about where the meeting is going and how you will get there.
--- Put a written purpose, desired outcomes, and agenda flipcharts in front of the group to keep it focused.
--- Establish a "parking lot" to hold topics that are unrelated to the discussion at hand.
--- Create ground rules that support sticking to the agenda

Keeping the Group on Track: Refocusing a Meeting That Has Drifted Off Course
--- Meetings go off track despite all the best preparation.
--- Being on track doesn't mean each moment is regimented; it means you are moving toward your goal within the timeframe you have established.
--- Analyze why the meeting is off track.
--- Choose an appropriate intervention to bring the meeting back to its purpose.

Managing Conflict in Groups
--- Some conflicts are preventable; others are an important part of the group process.
--- Conflict is made up of a problem plus emotion; therefore, tend the feelings as well as the problem to resolve conflict.
--- When a conflict emerges, remember to listen, summarize, seek common ground, and then focus on problem solving.

Intervening in Non-Productive Individual Situations
--- Intervene to keep meetings positive, productive, safe, and on task.
--- Focus on keeping the dignity of the group and the individual participants intact.
--- Use subtle interventions if possible; escalate to stronger interventions if necessary.

Intervening in Non-Productive Group Situations
--- Intervene to keep meetings positive, productive, safe, and on task.
--- Focus on keeping the dignity of the group and the individual participants intact.
--- Use a four-step process of intervention.

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