Setting up a Meeting:
- Do as much as you can to be clear with the client about the objectives of the meeting—both the objectives you have and what they see as objectives.
- See the space, if possible, or get a good description of it.
- Take time with the client to go over success factors and possible roadblocks to a successful meeting.
- Start and end on time. If it becomes clear the issue needs more time, contract with the group to extend the conversation at another time.
- Always have a facilitator—someone whose job it is to “make things happen with ease,” moving the agenda along with an eye toward good process.
- Designate a note taker and a time frame that the notes will be disseminated to meeting participants.
- Have an agenda that you’ve designed with your client or one that the client has endorsed.
- Start the meeting with a quick check-in (“A few words or a sentence about what’s up for you today”) and model brevity as the facilitator.
- End the meeting with some kind of intentional closure about what the participants are walking away with. And make sure to include a review of action items.
Managing the Conversation:
- Manage the airtime between the “Ruminators” and the “Talkers.” Check in with people who haven’t spoken as much with phrases like, “Let’s hear from some folks who haven’t talked yet,” or “What do others think about this?”
- Make use of in-the-moment visuals such as flip charts and white boards to capture themes and keep track of decisions, action items, or “parking lot” items to come back to later. Do not use the flip chart or white board as note taking mechanisms.
- Have a high ratio of questions to statements as the facilitator: e.g., “Can you say more about that?” or “Who are you talking about when you say ‘that group’?” Avoid taking up too much of the airtime yourself.
- Keep the group on track with the agenda. If the group gets off-track, acknowledge it (“We’re off-track here”), write the issue up in the Parking Lot, and return to the agenda. If the issue is clearly one that needs to be discussed right then, contract with the group to move off the agenda and spend some time on it.
- If the meeting gets confusing or out-of-hand, you can: 1) Take a break to collect yourself and consult with your CCP colleagues 2) Stop and say to the group something like, “I’m not sure where we are right now or where we’re going. Can anyone shed some light on that?” 3) End the meeting early, regroup with your client, and pick up the process again at a later date.