Tag: agenda

Agendas with end times are efficient

In a meeting room about to implement an agenda, Craig explains how useful it is to state an ending time.

Thanks for holding the camera, Wanda!

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Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody!

Hey it’s Craig Freshley about to facilitate a meeting in this room and today I want to talk about the importance of an agenda having an ending time. Come this way.

A lot of groups — especially government councils and commissions — tend to have meeting agendas without an ending time because there is an ethic that we want to give everybody a chance to say everything that they need to say. We want to give all the time that’s required for a particular agenda item.

And I get that, but a downside of not having an end time to an agenda is that the facilitator — the leader of the meeting — has no leverage. There is nothing that I can do or say as the facilitator to speed things along, to call people out when comments are being repeated; to take a hard line about things that are off-topic.

When an agenda has an end time, at various points through the agenda I can say, “look we’ve only got 45 minutes. Look I understand that what you’re saying is important but we’ve only got 20 minutes left in this meeting and I want to hear from some others.” As we get close to the end time I can be more and more pushy.

And what I find is that it actually doesn’t have the result of limiting comments. It has the result of making comments more efficient, and honestly that’s what we want in a meeting. If you want your meetings to be productive and efficient, wherever possible state an end time and stick to it.

I hope this helps your group make good decisions. Thanks for listening everybody.

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.