Tips, Videos, Handouts

Before and After

Craig explains that it’s not just what he does IN the meeting that earns him compliments; it’s what he does before and after.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley here, about to start a meeting.

I facilitate a lot of meetings and I get a lot of compliments on my meetings. But I have learned that what makes for a really good meeting is not just what I do during the meeting, but what I do before and after. Lets talk about that for just a minute.

Before every meeting that I facilitate I have a planning meeting with the leaders, with the organizers. I ask them, “What is it that you want to accomplish in this meeting? What would success look like?” Based on that, I draft an agenda. For every single piece of the agenda I think through exactly how it’s going to work, what I’m going to do, and what props or materials I need to make it work well. I make slides in advance, I make charts in advance, I make handouts in advance of every meeting. And I usually run those by the people who are leading the meeting.

Okay then the day arrives and I run the meeting but there’s an important piece of follow-up also. With every meeting that I facilitate I prepare some sort of follow-up report. At the very least it contains themes and highlights of what we discussed.

Now look,  you don’t have to be a professional meeting facilitator like me to employ these techniques of “before and after.” Even if you’re having a quick standup meeting among your staff, before the meeting starts think through what is the purpose of this meeting? What is the purpose of every single part of the meeting and how I am going to handle it? And after every meeting — no matter how quick or how casual — write something down: some sort of conclusion, theme, highlight, or action that is going to take place as a result of the meeting.

Without advance preparation before and without documentation after — no matter how good you do stuff during the meeting — the whole effect is not going to be nearly as great as if you do this important stuff before and after.

Thanks for listening everybody! I hope you help your group have good meetings and make good decisions.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

Leaders hold secrets

Good Group Tips

In principle, we expect our leaders to tell the truth and it’s easy to criticize them for lying. But let’s be honest, we also expect leaders to keep secrets. There is not a highly revered leader among us — a politician, a CEO, a minister, a parent — who has not held secrets for the benefit of their followers.

In fact it might be said that the leader’s heart is where otherwise hurtful confessions, embarrassments, and gossip go to die. The leader’s head is where plans are patiently kept safe and refined for future deployment. Leaders’ hearts and heads hold a lot.

I once witnessed a group of parents gathered to celebrate the end of a teacher’s journey with their children. They composed and read to her a poem that said, “Thank you for all you taught each day, and for all the things you did not say.”

Practical Tip: As a follower, understand that your leader is serving multiple interests, not just you. Understand that sometimes your leader serves you by telling the whole truth, and sometimes by holding secrets. Actually, serving many interests and keeping some of them secret is exactly what we want our leaders to do.

As a leader, be discerning and diplomatic about what you say and what you hold. Are you keeping a secret to shield your own indiscretions or to serve your followers? What would best serve others, keep or tell?

Knowing what to keep and when to tell and who to trust is extremely hard. Appreciate those who do it well.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.

I don’t know

Good Group Tips

In principle, most of us want to appear knowledgeable. We want to provide an answer to every question. We want to impress our fellow group members. In reality, saying “I don’t know” is often more helpful. When we think we know things it can close our mind to new, more accurate knowledge. When we convey what we think we know to others, it can lead them astray and provide a false sense of security.

Groups working with presumed knowledge rather than actual knowledge can waste huge amounts of time. Worse, decisions based on false presumptions rarely hold up over time and usually bring costly consequences. When we say, “I don’t know,” it inspires us all to learn, to get the facts, to ponder until clarity emerges.

Practical Tip: Adopt a posture of “I don’t know” and say, “I don’t know” until you really do know. Resist the temptation to impress; rather, answer to the higher callings of honesty, integrity, and humility.

– Craig Freshley

Click here for one-page PDF of this Tip, a great way to print or share.

Put the Tips in action for your group. Click here to learn about Craig’s Keynotes and Seminars.
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