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Getting Your Meeting Off to a Good Start

It is tempting to launch right into the subject of the meeting, but taking time for an opening will save time in the end. The opening builds a solid foundation for accomplishing the task.

Group forming. A long-standing group that is working well doesn't need group forming. If group members don't know each other well, then brief introductions are helpful. If it is a new or contentious group with a challenging process ahead, you will need more extensive group forming. Review agenda. Review the purpose, outcomes, and agenda, to reinforce why the group has come together. Doing that will help keep everyone focused on the task. Establish ground rules. Establish ground rules to support group-oriented behaviors. It is surprising how much easier it is for people to work

Key Points To Take Away

--- 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.

constructively once they have said out loud their expectations around behaviors or procedures. You should also be clear about the decision-making method of the group. Will you be using consensus or voting? It is better to agree in advance on the method. Clarify roles. It is important to be clear about roles. If you are both facilitating and participating, then say so up front and explain how you will be changing roles. What is the group's role? Are you asking them to make a final decision or to make recommendations? It is the group's role to generate the content of the meeting. Start a "parking lot." Title a blank flip chart page Parking Lot and explain that this is the spot where you will collect ideas that are important, but off topic. Then, at the end of the meeting, return to the parking lot and agree when that subject(s) should be discussed.

NEXT WEEK IN GREAT MEETINGS: Clear ground rules support good process.


About Great Meetings

Pam Plumb and Dee Kelsey are your facilitators in charge of Education World's Great Meetings series. They are also authors of the popular guide to meeting facilitation, Great Meetings! Great Results. Together, Pam and Dee have more than 40 years' experience facilitating change and training meeting leaders.

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Article by Dee Kelsey and Pam Plumb
Education World®
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