Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser.
Eris Weaver
Guerilla Meeting Facilitation

My workshop "Meetings That Don't Suck" offers tips, tools, and tricks for planning and facilitating better meetings. Most folks who take the course are in some kind of leadership position in which they have responsibility for meetings.

But what can you do if you are low on the office food chain, and are stuck as a participant in meetings over which you have no formal control? Here are some suggestions.

  1. Don't go. If certain meetings are impairing your ability to complete the tasks that your supervisor has told you are a priority, then skip 'em! Be sure to let your boss know why; after all, s/he probably didn't hire you just to sit in meetings, right? This won't work, obviously, if your boss is the one responsible for the meeting's suckiness.
  2. Ask questions. If the meeting has no agenda or seems to have no clear purpose, ask. "So, what is our main goal here today? What are we expecting to have accomplished by the end of the meeting?" Keep asking. Phrase your questions in such a way that the person leading the meeting does not feel accused. Frame them in terms of your own needs: "In order to participate well, it helps me to have more of the big picture in mind."
  3. Offer to help. Whether this is appropriate depends upon the temperament of the person leading the meetings as well as your relationship with him or her. If it someone that you can tell really hates running the meetings, they may jump for joy if you offer to assist. This could take the form of helping with agenda planning; facilitating some or all of the meeting; acting as a coach before the meeting or from their side during the meeting; or taking notes on a flipchart. Don't imply that this person is lousy at what they do - tell them that you're interested in learning more about facilitation or that you've just taken a course and want practice.
  4. Facilitate from the floor. I end up doing this a LOT in meetings that I am not officially facilitating. This does NOT have to resemble a hostile takeover! Instead, as a participant, you gently fill in things that the facilitator is missing. For example, if the discussion is getting way off topic and the facilitator isn't pulling it back, you can say, "Hey, this is interesting but I think we're really getting off the agenda. Here's what I think about [agenda item]."  If someone is taking too much airtime, if someone else is not getting a chance to speak, if someone says something inappropriate - in any of these situations in which a good facilitator can and should intervene, there is no rule against another meeting participant stepping in! Often the facilitator will be grateful, especially if they are someone who is uncomfortable being up there in the front anyhow.
  5. Organize a revolt. If there are dysfunctional patterns routinely keeping meetings from being effective, get together with other participants who share your frustration. Discuss the behaviors that are most problematical and come up with strategies to intervene. Once again, this can be done gracefully rather than antagonistically.
In any social system, there are always points at which a small change by one individual can cause a ripple effect upon the whole group. If just one person in a group starts doing things differently, SOMETHING will change. I guarantee it.

Upcoming Events
  • Learn how to have Meetings That Don't Suck, Tuesday April 5, 4:00-6:00 pm at the Share Exchange, Santa Rosa, CA.
  • I'll be teaching Quick & Dirty Strategic Planning at the California Co-ops and Communities Conference, April 8, Berkeley, CA.
  • Learn how to keep your employees happy by giving (and receiving!) useful and appropriate feedback! Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce Noontimes, July 6, 11:45 - 1:30 pm, Rohnert Park, CA.
More details on these and other events can be found here.

What I'm Reading...
David Straker's Rapid Problem Solving with Post-it® Notes details six easy-to-use tools for group problem solving.  Breaking complex problems down into bite-sized chunks, each fitting on a sticky note, makes it easy to move them around, try out different categorization schemes, map work flows, and prioritize. The tools are simple and the book includes many useful examples. My only critique is that the book is twice as long as it needs to be the convey its content. The author's website includes a lot of other interesting tools for helping groups work together creatively.

You are receiving this newsletter because you subscribed via our website.

Unsubscribe <<Email Address>> from this list | Forward to a friend | Update your profile
Our mailing address is:
Facilitator & Group Process Consultant
101 Ross Street, Suite 5
Cotati, CA 94931

Add us to your address book

Copyright (C) 2011 Facilitator & Group Process Consultant All rights reserved.
Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp