The Glossary of Meeting Terms describes terminology and acronyms related to meetings and all the activities we do in those meetings. We've gathered this information from far and wide, so enjoy! And hey — if you have corrections or additions, please don't hesitate to contact us!
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The 1-2-All is a facilitation technique that allows larger groups to generate questions, suggestions, and solutions all at the same time, making sure all participants have an opportunity to contribute.
The meeting leader poses a question, then asks each participant to consider the answer silently on their own. The group then breaks into pairs to discuss the topic, and perhaps then foursomes. Finally, the discussion moves to the entire group.
This technique is also known as...read more
The 2x2 Matrix is a decision support technique where the team plots options on a two-by-two matrix. Known also as a four blocker or magic quadrant, the matrix diagram is a simple square divided into four equal quadrants. Each axis represents a decision criterion, such as cost or effort. Each axis is divided into two sections (example: low cost/high cost and easy/difficult). The matrix is drawn on a whiteboard, then the team plots the options along the axes. This makes it easy to visualize...read more
The 4 Question Meeting is a technique for clarifying and communicating the meeting purpose. Attributed to American Express, people using this technique will answer these questions in the meeting invitation.What is the purpose -- decision, information sharing or brainstorming? What is the issue…in five words or less? Who has already weighed in and what did they have to say about it? What will surprise me in this meeting?
The 4Ls technique is a brainstorming technique for collecting feedback on a recently completed project or piece of work. People in the meeting are asked to brainstorm feedback in four categories: things they Liked, things they Learned, resources they Lacked, and things they Longed For.
The 5 Second Rule (as it's used in meetings) is a facilitation technique where you ask a question then wait a full 5 seconds before moving on. Once you get to 4 seconds, the silence becomes a little uncomfortable. It's just long enough for people to realize that you actually expect a response, and then think it through in their heads. At 5 seconds, people will start to speak up.
For example, when you ask "Are there any more questions?", wait silently for at least 5 seconds before...read more
The 5 Whys is a technique used to determine the root cause of an issue. By repeatedly asking the question “Why” (five is a good rule of thumb), you can discover symptoms which may lead to the reason a problem exists.
Liberating Structures defines a similar technique called Nine Whys. It's literally more of the same.
The 6 Fields of Distraction is a way to identify the things that keep us from paying attention to the task at hand, or get in the way of accomplishing the goals we set for ourselves. In a meeting, any participant struggling with one of the 6 fields of distraction will have a hard time fully committing their attention to the work of the group.
Each of these has an impact, and if one of them is that play, then we’re not likely to be at our best:Physical pain
Examples: backache... read more
Accessible software is designed to work for people who experience disabilities, such as visual, hearing, motor, or cognitive impairments, and who may access software using an assistive device. Lucid Meetings strives to deliver accessible software for meeting management and productivity.
Accountability is the acknowledgment of responsibility for getting things done and then reporting back to the group about results. Leaders encourage accountability in meetings by:Ensuring participants actively engage and contribute to meeting results, creating joint ownership for meeting outcomes. Assigning clear action items with a named owner and due date. Sending out meeting notes so everyone can see and remember the commitments made during the meeting. Following up after the... read more
Action items describe a discrete task that must be accomplished, usually by a single individual. Action items have a limited scope that can typically be accomplished in one to two weeks. The standard format for action items assigned during meetings documents Who, What, and When.Who: ideally one person who takes responsibility for making sure the task gets done. What: a short description of the task. Descriptions that start with a verb work best. For example, "Review the project plan... read more
An Action Review Meeting is used by teams to learn from experience and use what they've learned to improve future work.
You can find an introduction to Action Review Meetings in Chapter 20 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Project and Agile Retrospectives... read more
Activity modeling is a method used to illustrate how a system works. In an activity modeling workshop, the group works together to outline a sequence of steps and the component pieces involved in creating a behavior or result. Groups use activity models to visually represent the sequence of events that trigger a behavior. There are many types of activity models known by names specific to the type of process or system that they describe, such as Value Stream Maps, Architecture System Maps (...read more
An affinity diagram organizes a large number of ideas into related sets. Groups often create an affinity diagram as the second step in a brainstorming session. After everyone adds their ideas, the team looks at the ideas and organizes them, either into pre-determined categories or, more commonly, into clusters of like items which the team then labels.
An After-Action Review lays out a structured de-briefing process for analyzing an event. Participants discuss what happened, why it happened, and what can be done better in the future. After-Action Reviews were originally popularized by the military as a technique used to quickly learn from encounters and adapt to emerging situations. After-Action Reviews are now common in both the public and private sector as a way for teams to learn from the results of recently completed projects and...read more
The agenda is the version of the meeting plan shared with meeting attendees. A meeting agenda may include a list of topics to discuss, a sequence of planned activities, or both. The simplest agendas are formatted as a short bulleted list. More complicated agendas may include detailed topic descriptions, including the expected outcomes for each item and reference material, such as reports and proposals for review prior to the meeting. Formal agendas will also include timing and presenter...read more
Agile is a time boxed, iterative approach to work designed to deliver results incrementally from the start of the project, instead of trying to deliver everything all at once at the end. The agile methodology relies on a series of related meetings—called "ceremonies"—to keep the work coordinated and encourage continuous improvement.
AGM stands for Annual General Meeting: A meeting of the general membership of an organization. AGMs are held by membership associations and large companies with shareholders according to the rules spelled out in the organization's bylaws or charter.
Offering appreciations, or acknowledgments, is a popular and positive addition to the opening or close of a meeting. Leaders who introduce appreciations into their regular team meetings find these benefits.Team members feel better about each other.
Increased trust, an increased sense of personal value and worth, mutual caring: all the benefits you might expect when we remember to acknowledge and thank each other for the good we do. Fewer "meetings after the meeting".
Some... read more
Appreciative Inquiry techniques seek to build on the positive outcomes, successes, and highlights in a situation instead of focusing on how to counteract negative forces. Practitioners recognize that people are naturally predisposed to focus on things which are broken or inadequate, and they seek to combat this bias by intentionally pursuing possibilities that build on strengths. Appreciate Inquiry techniques are often used in problem solving and strategy meetings.
Argument Mapping is a technique for graphically breaking down and showing the reasoning (or argument) behind a statement. In a meeting, groups can use Argument Mapping to explore the underlying assumptions behind a request and uncover other possible explanations for why they face the challenge before them.
Around the Horn
See: Go Around
Asynchronous communication happens when someone sends a message and then the recipients choose when to reply. There is usually (but not always) a time delay between the original message and any responses.
With synchronous (aka "real-time") communication, the expectations regarding turn-taking are shared across cultures and languages. One person asks a question, and then the next person answers it right away.
For asynchronous communication, there are no fixed...read more
Asynchronous meetings are discussions about a specific topic that are held over a defined period of time, just like other meetings, but where the participants do not necessarily communicate in real-time.
Instead, people participate in the meeting by sharing ideas via recorded voice, video, text, and other methods of asynchronous communication. Participants add their contributions any time before the defined deadline.
Thanks to Charles Kergaravat at...read more
Attendance is the act of being present (at a meeting or event, etc.). Attendance is often tracked and reported in meeting records. For some meetings, a predetermined percentage of participants (called a quorum) must be in attendance before the meeting can start. In some organizations, meeting attendance is required to qualify for additional privileges such as voting rights or the right to participate in special events.
Automated review is a feature in Lucid Meetings that allows meeting participants to view a compilation of action items or notes together in a meeting. For example, a facilitator could set up the last agenda item to include a Smart List—which would automatically collect and display all action items from that meeting—for participants to review together and reach agreement before the meeting is adjourned.
Organizers seek to achieve balance in meetings by ensuring people representing differing opinions, perspectives, and interests all have an opportunity to participate. Balance is a requirement for many non-profit and public sector meetings, where organizers must actively seek to include participants who represent diverse interests. For example, an organization working to create safety standards will include people who represent for-profit companies, government agencies, non-profit...read more
What value do your meetings create?
When you improve the productivity of your meetings, you ensure your team can answer that question.
You can capture that value by asking for their BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front.
A BLUF is a short summary placed at the very beginning of a message, like a business-oriented version of TL;DR. The BLUF covers the most important information, then the full message includes the details. This way, busy people can quickly read the bit at the top...read more
A Board Meeting is a formal meeting of the board of directors of an organization and any invited guests, held at definite intervals and as needed to review performance, consider policy issues, address major problems and perform the legal business of the board. Presided over by a chairperson of the organization, the quorum, rules, and responsibilities for board meetings will be documented in the organization's operating agreements and may need to meet government requirements. The finalized...read more
A board portal is a secure software application or website designed explicitly for the purpose of facilitating communication between directors and the company. The current generation of board portals supports information exchange and captures the process both during meetings and between meetings.
Braindumping refers to brainstorming written down. The term can be used to describe a solo activity, where one person writes down all the ideas they can think of individually, or a group activity where one person writes down ideas as they're expressed by the group.
Lucid meeting templates frequently recommend using Silent Brainstorming, a form of Braindumping that works well in everyday meetings.
Brainstorming is a group technique formalized by Alex Osborn in 1939 as a way to generate a lot of ideas quickly in response to a specific problem or question. Traditional brainstorming involves multiple people calling out as many ideas as they can think of within a set timeframe. Brainstorming emphasizes quantity over quality, disallowing critique or limitations during the brainstorming session; "There are no bad ideas."
Research on Brainstorming over the past few decades has...read more
Brainwriting is an idea generation technique where participants write down their ideas about a particular question for a few minutes without talking. Then, each person passes his or her ideas to the next person who uses them as a trigger for adding or refining their own ideas.
Breakout groups are used as a large group discussion technique designed to increase participation. During a large meeting or workshop, the facilitator may assign the group to work in smaller teams to answer a question or tackle a specific challenge. Breakout groups may be assigned randomly (by counting off or by simply having people break into smaller groups) or they may be divided based on the interests represented.
For example, the Future Backwards exercise works best when the group...read more
A Broadcast Meeting is used by teams when they need to share information with a large group, either internally or externally.
You can find an introduction to Broadcast Meetings in Chapter 34 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Marketing Webinar... read more
A meeting cadence is a pattern of regular team meetings. Short, frequent meetings increase a team's work momentum. Groups that provide oversight, such as boards and committees, hold longer meetings less frequently.
The CAPPED Decision Framework is a set of stages and facilitative questions to help groups make decisions together, no matter what the scale, urgency, and complexity. Developed by Ben Crothers, this framework uses logic and progressive alignment to structure a discussion and reach a decision and alignment stage by stage, rather than trying to align on a decision right at the end.Steps in the CAPPED Decision Making Framework
Causal Layered Analysis (abbreviated as CLA) is a group sense-making technique used to explore the underlying causes and worldviews contributing to a situation. Working together, groups made up of people representing different perspectives respond to a central question with:Litany: how they "feel" about it Causes: what's creating the situation Worldview: the perspectives shaping it Myths: the underlying stories feed it
The results of a CLA exercise are often shown as an iceberg,...read more
The chair (also chairperson, chairwoman or chairman) is the highest elected officer of an organized group such as a board, a committee, or a deliberative assembly. In formal meetings, the chair is responsible for driving the meeting content. The chair leads preparation of the meeting agenda, opens the meeting, and works to keep the conversation focused, engaging, and balanced. The chair is also responsible for managing the formal business of the meeting, such as recognizing speakers and...read more
Challenging Assumptions is a sense-making technique designed to break apart a statement and discover where assumptions may be limiting your options. There are several ways of leading a group through an exercise designed to challenge assumptions.
In one approach, groups start by writing out the stated goal or problem, then underlining every word that implies an underlying assumption. For example:
We need to lay off 20 people this quarter.
Then, for every underlined word or...read more
The Chatham House Rule is used in meetings where participants need a way to openly share information, but don't want to be identified as the source of that information in any meeting records or articles written afterward. The rule is invoked regularly in meetings dealing with sensitive topics. It reads:
When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the...read more
A check-in is a technique used at the beginning of a meeting to give everyone an opportunity to speak, and during meeting transitions to survey the group's current status. The simplest check-in is simply to ask each person how they are. There are many more specific check-in techniques, each developed for a specific meeting context.
All check-ins work to:Increase participation: everyone starts by participating right up front, making it impossible to multi-task on other work... read more
Facilitators and meeting leaders use a meeting checkpoint to keep the group focused and on topic. To conduct a checkpoint at the end of an agenda item, the facilitator will quickly recap what the group just accomplished, where they are in the agenda, and what they will do next. Checkpoints increase engagement by providing a sense of incremental accomplishment and curtailing side discussions as the group focuses on completing the planned agenda.
Circles and Soup is an exercise teams use to the identify the parts of their work they can control directly, the factors they can influence, and those which are outside of their control. Once these factors are sorted, the team can then make better decisions about how to prioritize their efforts.
The technique, introduced by Diana Larsen and frequently used in action review meetings, works by drawing three large concentric circles on a whiteboard. The team then writes down the various...read more
Circles of Influence
See: Circles and Soup
A Clarifying Question is a question asked about something that is unclear or hard to understand. People ask clarifying questions to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, rather than as a way to probe, challenge, or open up new avenues of discussion.
Example clarifying questions include:When do you need an answer? What format would you like that in? How are you defining moderate risk? Does that have an 80% chance of happening, for example? I'm not sure what you mean by "... read more
Code of Conduct (for a Meeting)
See: Ground Rules
Cognitive Biases are mental shortcuts we each make to help us make decisions in the face of ambiguity, overwhelming options, and limited time. Researchers believe cognitive biases have evolved so we can make mostly-correct decisions quickly, allowing us to survive, grow, and adapt to the most common challenges everyone encounters. These biases, though, often lead people in the complex modern world to jump to incorrect conclusions. Effective meeting designs will work to combat cognitive...read more
Collaboration is a working practice whereby individuals work together to a common purpose to achieve a mutual goal or business benefit. Team meetings can be designed to encourage collaboration by providing opportunities for everyone to contribute to a shared result during the meeting. Poorly executed meetings, on the other hand, inhibit collaboration by emphasizing power dynamics, stifling discussion, and boring people.
A committee consists of a named subgroup of people within an organization who come together to fill a predetermined function. A committee's work is described in its charter and is often conducted in a series of meetings. A committee may operate as a governing body, overseeing an organizational function for a prolonged period of time, or as a project team that gets disbanded once the original goal is accomplished. Depending on their function, committee meetings may work like team meetings,...read more
An organization's communication architecture determines the method and frequency by which information, attention, and intent flows between people, teams, and systems in the organization.
Common elements of an organization's communication architecture include:Email, shared calendars, and document storage Meetings Record keeping and collaboration systems Casual conversations between co-workers Signage, posters, and announcements Signals and safety alert systems Broadcasts,... read more
A Community of Practice Meeting is used by people with a shared interest in a topic for networking, learning, and mutual support.
You can find an introduction to Team Cadence Meetings in Chapter 32 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Monthly Safety Committee... read more
In a complex decision-making situation, there is no obviously correct choice. Instead, there are multiple answers that warrant further experimentation before committing to a single approach.
Teams may use a compromise approach to making a decision when they can't agree on a single answer. The facilitator helps the team identify all points that they agree on to form the basis of the decision. Then, focusing only on the specific areas of disagreement, the team seeks an alternate approach, or compromise, that everyone can live with.
Concept mapping is a technique for graphically organizing and representing knowledge. The maps include concepts, usually enclosed in circles or boxes, and relationships between the concepts indicated by a connecting line. Concept maps can be created collaboratively by a group during a meeting, a process more commonly known as Mind Mapping. Concept maps can also be used as a visually interesting way to present a meeting or workshop agenda. Finally, concept maps are often presented during...read more
A conference call is an audio call in which multiple participants all join the same call at the same time. Most commonly, people join conference calls by dialing a shared conference number on their phones. In recent years, the term conference call has also been used to describe group calls held by computer using software like Skype, UberConference, and other computer-based audio technologies. A conference call that includes real-time video of participants is called a video conference, and...read more
A conference room is a dedicated space for events such as business conference calls and meetings.
Connectivity describes the ability of individuals to connect to the Internet using computers and mobile devices. Connectivity problems are more noticeable and have a greater negative impact on online meetings than on most other forms of Internet use. Connectivity issues are especially noticeable when using computer audio or video conferencing.
Consensus is a decision-making approach that seeks to secure the support of the whole group for the decision at hand. Many people believe that consensus is the same thing as unanimous agreement, but this is not necessarily the case. Unanimity is when everyone agrees. Consensus is when no one disagrees.
A specific definition of consensus may be spelled out in a team's ground rules or operating agreements. When the definition isn't clear in advance, facilitators recommend clarifying...read more
A consent agenda is a technique for addressing multiple topics in a single agenda item, such as committee reports, meeting minutes, and other items that don't require discussion. Boards and committees use a consent agenda to quickly manage all the items they are legally required to address during the meeting, but which should not take up any of the board's precious meeting time. Groups that use a consent agenda expect participants to have reviewed the items on the consent agenda prior to the...read more
Conflict is when there is some form of friction, disagreement, or discord within a group. Conflict can arise when people perceive opposition to their ideas, values, or opinions. Many meetings are designed to encourage constructive conflict, where participants talk openly and respectfully about these disagreements in a mutual attempt to understand each other's perspectives and create the best possible solution. Meeting facilitators are trained to recognize the difference between constructive...read more
A consulting decision-making meeting involves a group that provides information and advice to one or more designated decision makers. The appointed decision maker(s) then take responsibility for making the final decision. There are several ways to run a meeting that consults to the decision maker. In some cases, the group will meet to discuss the decision separately and then provide a written report to the decision maker. In other cases, the group discusses the decision in the decision maker...read more
The classic structure for group decision-making meetings includes these phases: Diverge -> Emerge - > Converge.
Convergent thinking is the opposite of divergent thinking. Instead of creating a lot of new ideas, convergent thinking works to focus in on the "right" idea. When a group makes a decision and outlines next steps, they are converging around a single idea.
Creative Problem Solving (CPS) is a method that attempts to approach a problem or a challenge in an innovative way. The process helps redefine problems and opportunities to come up with new responses and solutions.
There are many variations on the basic Creative Problem Solving process, some of which work nicely in group meetings. The simplest form of the process includes these steps:Clarify (the objectives, the problem, the facts, the opportunity) Generate Ideas (come up with... read more
A criteria matrix is a valuable decision-making tool that is used to assess and rank a list of options based on specific criteria. For example, the simplest criteria matrix will compare the Pros and Cons of each option.
More involved decisions benefit from establishing criteria or factors for evaluating each option in advance, such as cost, time to implement, expected impact, alignment with core values, etc. Each alternative is then rated on each criterion and compared to the others...read more
Cultural differences impact how people from different countries, socio-economic groups, and other distinct societal systems interact in meetings. For example, some cultures prize direct discussions and vigorous debate while others value ritual, formality, and polite discourse. People from different cultures may have different expectations about work deadlines and communication patterns. When leading a meeting with participants from different cultures, effective leaders make plans that take...read more
DeBono's Six Thinking Hats is a dialogue technique for looking at a decision from multiple angles. Individual group members take on an assigned perspective (or "Thinking Hat") for the duration of the discussion. For example, when talking about how to handle a situation, one person will take responsibility for pointing out any needs for more information, another will highlight all the exciting possibilities, and another will point out all the problems. Six Thinking Hats was created by Edward...read more
A decision log is, literally, a log of decisions that have been made. The purpose of a decision log is to make information available to people who were not present when the decision was made, and also to provide easy access to key information about past decisions when questions arise. (In particular, the question “Didn’t we already decide that?”)
The summary of a decision should include:What was decided What alternatives were considered Why this choice was made Who was involved... read more
A Decision Making Meeting is used by teams when they need to formally agree on a significant decision and secure commitment to act on that decision.
You can find an introduction to Decision Making Meetings in Chapter 26 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples New... read more
A decision tree is a decision-making aid that compares options by projecting what the expected outcome of each choice might be. Teams that use a decision tree often draft the tree together in a meeting on a whiteboard. First, they add a circle or box for each option under consideration. Then, they add "branches" from the first option that show the results they expect if they choose that option. Then, they add a matching set of branches coming from the next option with the results they...read more
Decision making technique designed to combat groupthink. One or more people in the group takes the "devil's advocate" role, and works to point out all the flaws and risks with an option under consideration.
Dialetical inquiry is a group decision-making technique that attempts to combat group think. The practice reportedly originated with Plato, who asked his students to consider both the thesis and antithesis to any idea. Groups using this technique divide into two camps: those advocating for an idea and those advocating against it. Both sides highlight the advantages of their assigned decision and outline the disadvantages of the opposing idea.
A discovery meeting is a form of investigative meeting used by consultants, designers, and project teams to learn more about a project's requirements. During a discovery meeting, one or more people interview the project stakeholders about project goals, background, available resources, constraints and any other factors that may impact the project's success.
Discovery meetings provide information used to draft a discovery report and to help the project team decide on next steps.
The classic structure for group decision-making meetings includes these phases: Diverge -> Emerge - > Converge.
Divergent Thinking describes thought processes and methods used to generate creative ideas by exploring a wide variety of ideas and perspectives. Many group meetings include activities designed to spur divergent thinking. The most famous example is brainstorming, where a group comes up with as many different ideas as possible.
Divergence can also refer to the...read more
Dominance in a meeting describes the behavior of a person who uses their position of authority or role in the group to control the situation in a way that excludes the fair and equitable consideration of other viewpoints. In other words, they use their position to bully and suppress the other participants. Dominance is considered a meeting dysfunction because it prevents healthy conversation and results in heavily biased decision making.
Dominance is a term commonly used in the...read more
A doom loop is a negative belief cycle, where a series of beliefs, actions, and reactions work to reinforce negative beliefs and unwanted behaviors.
Here's how a positive belief cycle works:You form a belief.
Example: Dancing is fun! You act on that belief.
You dance often and get pretty good at it. Others see your action and form their own beliefs.
Others see you're having fun and smile when they see you dance. You see others' reactions, which reinforces your belief... read more
Dot voting is a fast and easy polling system used to bring out a group's opinions regarding the highest priority items on a list. The technique is called “Dot Voting” because, in face-to-face meetings, votes are cast by placing a sticky-dot or using markers to make a dot next to an item posted on the wall. Each meeting participant gets a fixed number of votes (or dots) that they can cast however they want; they can place all their votes on the same item if they wish, or vote for several...read more
When people mention "the Elephant in the Room", they're referring to something they assume everyone knows, but no one wants to talk about because it's awkward, taboo, or likely to incite conflict. The phrase originated from a Russian fable written by Ivan Krylov in 1814.
This phrase is unrelated to the tale of the Blind Men and the Elephant, which is...read more
See: Peaks and Valleys
In a meeting context, engagement describes the attention level of attendees and how much they participate in the meeting's activities. A participant's engagement is easiest to see when they are speaking or actively working in a group activity. People listening attentively may also be highly engaged.
Often it is easier to detect when a participant is disengaged. Signs of disengagement include multitasking, interrupting or holding side conversations, reading reports or email during the...read more
Environment scanning is a sense-making exercise teams use to uncover the outside trends that they should consider during the strategic planning process. Teams research and brainstorm the trends they see in their political environment, economic climate, community, and industry, then discuss how these changes in their operating environment create new risks and opportunities. Environmental scans can be completed in one or more meetings.
An executive session is a private meeting within an otherwise open meeting, such as an organizational board meeting. Boards may hold an executive session involving only board members to discuss sensitive or private information. The minutes for an executive session are taken separately, if at all, and the discussion is considered confidential. In public organizations, the business that can be legally discussed in an executive session may be subject to open meeting laws governing public access...read more
A face-to-face meeting is one where all the participants are physically in the same place. In other words, a face-to-face meeting is what everyone used to just call "a meeting" before the advent of conference calls and web conferencing. Now, meetings can be characterized as face-to-face (with everyone colocated), virtual (with most all participants joining from separate locations), or hybrid (some participants colocated, others joining from different locations).
Facilitation is the work involved in designing and running a successful meeting. To facilitate literally means "to make the process easy." Facilitation skills include:Planning an appropriate process for a specific meeting Engaging the group during the meeting and maintaining a positive participatory environment Ensuring the meeting produces the desired outcomes and deliverables
The term facilitator can refer to a person's profession or their role in a specific meeting.
Professional facilitators are trained to design and lead meetings for teams and groups. A professional facilitator works for and with a leader to plan the meeting in advance, prepare the venue, materials, and conduct any pre-work, and to guide the group through the meeting. Facilitators focus on managing the meeting process and helping every participant engage successfully. Most facilitators...read more
Facipulation is the application of facilitation techniques used in an attempt to manipulate a group towards a pre-determined outcome. Facipulation is basically tricking people into thinking they had a choice, when you were really cleverly steering the meeting to achieve a pre-determined outcome.
This is a common concern expressed by non-facilitators, who may worry that intentionally designing meetings to achieve desired outcomes will box participants into agreeing to something they...read more
Facilitators and leaders ask for meeting feedback so they can work to improve future meetings. Asking for feedback helps the leader improve and sends a message about the importance of meeting quality to meeting participants. Meeting feedback is typically collected just before ending the meeting, as the last or next to last item on the agenda, or directly following the meeting using a meeting feedback form. When collected and reviewed over time, meeting feedback can give managers insight into...read more
A fishbone diagram is a visual technique that teams use to organize their thinking and identify causes for a problem. The diagram starts with a process or problem written at the right center of the board, with a long horizontal line and an arrow leading to it. Then, diagonal lines are drawn connecting to the horizontal line, or spine, of the diagram. Each diagonal line represents a possible cause of the problem, or a set of inputs into the process.
The Fist to Five is a technique for quickly getting feedback or gauging consensus during a meeting. The leader makes a statement, then asks everyone to show their level of agreement with the statement by holding up a number of fingers, from 5 for wild enthusiasm (Jazz hands!) down to a clenched fist for vehement opposition.One way to define the Fist to Five scale. Make sure to clarify what 0 to 5 mean for your group.
A flip chart consists of a series of large pieces of paper which are attached at the top and which are used to present information to an audience by turning over one piece of paper at a time. Flip charts are used during meetings to present the agenda and for visual note taking. In professionally facilitated meetings, there may be separate flip charts dedicated to capturing ideas, actions, parking lot items, and other content relevant to the meeting. Groups that meet electronically use...read more
Meeting follow up includes the activities conducted after the meeting. Right after the meeting, the meeting organizer follows up by sending out meeting notes and collecting feedback. If the meeting resulted in action items or other plans, the leader may also schedule a dedicated follow-up meeting to check progress.
Teams conduct a force field analysis when they need to make go/no-go decisions. Teams start by writing the proposed change down the center of the diagram. To the left, they list the forces driving change, with an arrow pointing to the proposed change. To the right, they draw the forces pushing back against the change. Then, they assign relative strengths to each force and add the totals on each side. This is a subjective yet helpful way for groups to think through the forces working for and...read more
See: 2x2 Matrix
Framing means providing context for thinking about an issue. When people try to make sense of any set of facts, they do so within a mental “frame” based on what they already know, and what they value.
In a meeting, people will bring different frames based on their job functions, their experience, and whatever they last heard. An effective leader will help provide a shared frame for the topic so people can work together effectively. This may include providing background information...read more
The gallery method is a way of generating and building on ideas in a group. To begin, the group reviews a problem statement or challenge. Then, everyone takes 30 minutes or so to sketch 2 or 3 solution ideas. These are posted on the wall where everyone can see them, just like they were looking at art in a gallery. After this review, people retrieve their sketches and refine ideas as inspired by the work in other people's sketches.
The Go Around gives each person a brief turn to speak to the topic, without interruption. Everyone else listens. Also known as a Round Robin, Structured Go Around, or as going “Around the Horn”, this foundational meeting tool ensures that everyone can contribute their thoughts and comments.
For example, invitations at the beginning of meetings typically use a go around. The go around also works well to increase engagement in the middle of a meeting, and to create an opportunity for...read more
A Governance Cadence Meeting is used to provide legal and strategic oversight for an organization or contractual relationship.
You can find an introduction to Governance Cadence Meetings in Chapter 21 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Board Meetings... read more
The Gradients of Agreement is a group decision support tool described in The Facilitator's Guide to Participatory Decision Making. It spells out an 8-point scale for expressing support for a decision.Whole-hearted Endorsement - “I really like it!” Agreement with a Minor Point of Contention - “Not perfect, but it’s good enough.” Support with Reservations - “I can live with it.” Abstain - “This issue does not affect me.” More Discussion Needed - “I don’t understand the issues well enough... read more
Great Idea. Different Meeting.
Ground rules detail the code of conduct for a meeting, explaining the behavior that's expected of all meeting participants. Ideally, ground rules are created and agreed to by the people participating in the meeting, because groups more easily accept and abide by rules they've set themselves.
Workshop facilitators often establish ground rules at the beginning of the workshop. Established teams, boards, and committees may also adopt a set of standing ground rules that cover all of their...read more
Group decision support software helps organizations make decisions using best-practices at scale. Group decision support software features include support for large-scale brainstorming, idea grouping and refinement, ranking, sorting, voting, and otherwise prioritizing alternatives. Advanced applications also includes detailed reporting and sophisticated tools for analyzing input from large communities.
While teams may use group decision support software during a meeting or workshop,...read more
Groupthink describes what happens in meetings when a group focuses more on maintaining group harmony than in creating a quality outcome. Group members avoid the critical evaluation of ideas and suppress dissenting opinions in an effort to minimize conflict.
The term "Groupthink" was invented by social psychologist Irving Janis in 1972, who described these 8 symptoms.Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks. Collective... read more
Hummed consensus is a technique championed by IETF committees to quickly determine if the group has reached an agreement. Before the committee takes a formal vote on a decision, the meeting leaders will ask the group to indicate their support by humming for their preferred option.
This short video shows the humming technique in action during an IETF committee meeting.
Nerd Alert: Did you know that the IETF uses collective humming to gauge consensus for...read more
A hybrid meeting refers to the physical location of participants. In a hybrid meeting, a subset of the people attending the meeting is located together in the same place. Other participants join the meeting by conference call or web conference. For facilitators, hybrid meetings are some of the most difficult meetings to manage as you can neither rely on everyone having access to the meeting technology nor on people all using sticky notes or other tangible resources. Experts on remote...read more
An ice breaker is an activity, game, or event that is used to welcome and warm up the conversation among participants in a meeting. Ice breakers range wildly, from simple one-question answers to elaborate team games. All ice breakers are designed to help the participants get to know one another and build rapport, but that doesn't mean they can't also be work and results focused.
The Lucid bookshelves include three full volumes covering different ice breaker techniques. The vast...read more
An Idea Generation Meeting is used when a group needs to quickly create a lot of new ideas.
You can find an introduction to Idea Generation Meetings in Chapter 23 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Ad Campaign Brainstorming Session User Story... read more
An Influence Diagram is a compact, graphical way to look at the factors involved in making a decision. Influence diagrams show how the decisions, variables at work, and desired outcomes relate to one another, which is useful for making it easy to see the main factors involved and how each factor impacts the others. Influence diagrams can be created before a meeting, or drawn on-the-fly to illustrate the ideas under discussion. The diagram is reviewed and refined in the meeting, then used to...read more
An integration is the practice of combining individually tested software and hardware components in a way that makes them easy to use together. Most meeting technology is integrated with other technologies, such as calendar systems, document repositories, project management systems, and more.
An Introduction Meeting is used to determine whether the people involved wish to create a relationship and work together again in the future.
You can find an introduction to Introduction Meetings in Chapter 30 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Job Interviews... read more
An Introduction is a formal presentation of one person to another, including the exchange of names. Meetings that involve people who don't know each other often start with introductions, which may be as simple as going around the room and sharing names. Alternatively, some meetings will start with an icebreaker activity that incorporates basic introductions. Ideally, the kind of introductions used in the meeting will be appropriate to the meeting's purpose.
An invitation is a request or attempt to get another person to join an event such as a meeting. An effective meeting invitation includes details about when and where the meeting will be held, and information about the meeting's purpose, desired outcomes, and any recommended preparation that should be completed beforehand.
An Issue is an area of concern or uncertainty that impacts a team's ability to make progress. Teams identify issues during meetings, then work to find solutions.
Project teams and leadership teams will often create an issues list that they review and update during regular meetings. When the team identifies a possible resolution to an issue, the issue is removed from the issues list and may be replaced by one or more action items defining the steps the team will take to address the...read more
An Issue Resolution Meeting is used when two parties both recognize there is a problem to solve, but they have different beliefs about how the problem should be solved.
You can find an introduction to Team Cadence Meetings in Chapter 31 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples... read more
According to Job Embeddedness Theory, when an employee is more embedded within their organization, they are less likely to quit. Unlike simpler measures of job satisfaction or self-reports of engagement, job embeddedness looks at three aspects of the employee-organization relationship.Links: the interconnections between the employee, others in the organization, and the organization's larger network Fit: how well suited the employee is to their role Sacrifice: how difficult it would be... read more
The Johari window was developed by psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham as a technique for people to better understand how a person perceives themselves and is perceived by others.
A Johari window organizes information into four quadrants based on these criteria:What I know What others know
The basic process for using a Johari window works like this.You and others make private lists of what you know or believe. The original Johari window technique asked... read more
A kickoff meeting, originating from football, is generally the first meeting with the project team and their client. This meeting comes after the basic project details have been defined, but before the main project work begins and is designed to create alignment between everyone involved with the project. .
Kickoff meetings are not planning meetings, although it is common to review and revise project plans during a kickoff. A kickoff may last anywhere from a few hours to a few days,...read more
The KJ-Method or KJ Technique, is an idea generating and prioritizing technique named after its inventor, Jiro Kawakita. This technique is one of the most popular brainstorming variations for design, team, retrospective, and project meetings. The KJ Technique includes these steps:Individual brainstorming:
Everyone silently writes down ideas. Each idea goes on a separate note. Sharing ideas:
People take turns sharing the ideas they've written and posting them to the group space... read more
Lack of participation happens when participants remain quiet or do not engage in a meeting's activities creating a roadblock to meeting productivity. This is considered a meeting dysfunction that should be avoided by properly structuring the meeting to encourage engagement and include only those people who have an active role to play.
Lean practices focus on those activities that continuously improve all functions and processes, and involve all employees in the effort to increase the efficiency with which the organization delivers value to customers. Lean practices originated in Japan at Toyota then gained widespread adoption in the manufacturing industry. Today, Lean methodologies are being adapted to improve operations in many other industries as well.
Lean practitioners use a series of specialized meetings to...read more
LEAN Coffee is one way to build an agenda on the fly. Groups using this structured meeting technique brainstorm then decide the topics to be discussed at the start of the meeting. This meeting technique works for smaller meetings where the entire group will decide on a single set of topics to discuss. Open Space events, or Unconferences, apply similar ideas to larger events.
The Lean Coffee technique is also a fast collaborative way to create workable meeting structure when facing an...read more
Live Cast is a term that describes the process of broadcasting real-time, live video footage or video feed to an audience accessing the video stream over the Internet.
A Logical Fallacy is an invalid argument that relies on emotional tricks rather than sound logic. Many logical fallacies feel and sound persuasive, and they can be especially destructive when used in meetings. Some people use fallacies intentionally in their efforts to persuade others to agree with them. (This is especially common in politics.) Meeting leaders can help combat the impact of logical fallacies by:Educating themselves and others on how to recognize logical fallacies (See... read more
The Lotus Blossom Technique is a structured brainstorming exercise used to expand on a central idea or problem. Teams place the original problem statement in the center box in a 3x3 matrix, then add related themes or elements of the problem in the 8 boxes surrounding it. After filling out this central box, 8 new grids are created with an idea from the first grid in the center. The process repeats, with the team adding 8 ideas for each of the 8 initial aspects from the first grid.
Low energy is considered a dysfunctional meeting dynamic that manifests in many ways: attendees look tired, don't contribute to the conversation, lose track of the discussion, etc. There are several ways to combat low energy, including energizing activities, replacing presentations with discussion, walking or standing meetings, and, of course, not scheduling meetings too early, too late, or right after lunch.
See: 2x2 Matrix
A meeting is a defined real-time gathering of two or more people for the purpose of achieving a common goal through conversation and interaction. Meetings have three qualities which differentiate them from other kinds of conversations:Meetings are declared.
Someone decides that a meeting should happen with some group of people. Usually this results in someone scheduling a meeting. Meetings have a purpose.
While the purpose may not be clear to everyone in attendance, there is... read more
Meeting Costs are a calculation of the money and resources required to prepare for and run a meeting. Costs can be calculated by assessing software costs, organizational costs (people time), meeting productivity and efficiency, or a combination of all three. See our meeting cost calculators for more information.
Meeting design is the practice of creating a plan for a specific kind of meeting that includes a draft agenda and explains how to achieve the desired meeting outcomes.
A Meeting Flow Model is a form of process documentation that highlights the main meetings used to achieve a business result. A Meeting Flow Model works by describing the specific meetings used for each situation. Like all process documentation, these models reduce ambiguity and create a common language for getting work done that, when applied properly, speeds execution.
Meeting Flow Models are composed of one or more reference documents. Each model includes:The Meeting Flow... read more
Meeting management software helps individuals and teams plan, organize, run, and record results during meetings. Common meeting productivity features include scheduling and invitations, agenda building and distribution, note-taking during meetings, timers, action item and decision tracking, and minutes generation. Lucid Meetings is an acknowledged leader in the meeting productivity space.
Meeting Metrics are data points, collected over time, that can show trends and patterns of efficiency or efficacy in your meetings. Common metrics include the number of meetings and participants, time spent in meetings, attendance, and meeting ratings.
Meeting Minutes, or informally, notes, are the record of a meeting in written form. They typically describe the events of the meeting and may include an agenda, a list of attendees and no shows, a listing of issues and decisions made, and an action list with due dates and responsible parties. In formal meetings, the minutes become official after review and a vote at the next meeting.
A Meeting Operating System is the system used by a company or organization to ensure meetings are effective and strategically aligned to the needs of the business. A meeting operating system establishes the performance criteria, operating models, and support all employees require to achieve effective business meetings.
An organization's meeting operating system can be evaluated using the Meeting Performance...read more
The Meeting Performance Maturity Model (MPMM) provides a framework for understanding how well an organization’s meeting operating system performs and the degree to which an organization optimizes meetings to achieve their specified purpose. Groups operate at one of five levels of meeting performance maturity.Level 1: Individual Almost no repeatable meeting process. Meetings are poorly... read more
There are two meeting technologies commonly referred to as meeting polls.A meeting scheduling tool that allows meeting organizers to ask attendees which days and times they are available to meet. A question posed to attendees during a meeting designed to increase engagement. Everyone answers at the same time, often using mobile polling applications or poll features built into web conferencing software.
The meeting's purpose is a statement explaining why the group needs to meet, and why meeting would work better than chat or email in this situation. The meeting purpose should provide a clear line of sight to an end result in a meeting, preferably something that can be documented.
A meeting's structure describes how the meeting is planned and organized. Every meeting has a structure. When a meeting leader works to create the structure for the meeting, they consider:When and where to hold the meeting Who to invite and what each person will do The order of topics, activities, and presentations How decisions will be made and records tracked and more...
A meeting template is a pre-formatted set of information that can serve as a starting point for a specific type of meeting. The template may include (but is not limited to) a detailed agenda, facilitation and preparation instructions, dial-in or web connection details, and related documents or presentations. Example: The Essential Project Kickoff Meeting Template
Mind Mapping is a visual way to represent a central idea and related themes. The central idea is written in the center, and related ideas are placed surrounding the central idea with lines connecting them, like branches coming from a central trunk. Mind maps can be created on paper, a whiteboard, or by using mind mapping software. Mind maps have several uses in meetings.Visual note taking: where the main topic of the meeting sits in the middle, and the main points of the discussion are... read more
The phrase "let's put the moose on the table" refers to an uncomfortable topic that needs to be discussed but that everyone is avoiding.
This origin story says that the phrase originated in the 1980s and was inspired by a real event where a baby moose had died under a banquet table, stinking up the meeting space. No one at the meeting mentioned the obvious awful smell.
A motion is a formal proposal put to a group for a decision by vote in a meeting. Meetings that use Robert's Rules of Order or another parliamentary process make official decisions using motions. The outcome of a motion gets recorded as an official decision in the meeting minutes. When a motion is proposed, participants will typically vote Yes, No, or Abstain. The rules for working with motions and counting votes depend on the group and will usually be documented in the group's operating...read more
Multitasking is the practice of dividing attention between multiple activities at the same time. In a meeting context, this can be a problem as participants may check their email or prepare a presentation and not fully pay attention to critical parts of the meeting.
Multivoting is a technique used to take a long list of possible solutions and either narrow it to a smaller list by priority or reduce it to a final selection. Each person in the group gets a set number of votes, and ranks the options they prefer in order from most preferred (the high) to least preferred (the low). When all votes are cast, the votes for each option are tallied and will either reveal a clear winner or provide information for further discussion.
Mute mapping is an affinity diagramming approach designed to encourage equal participation and reduce bias. Mute mapping follows brainstorming. When all the ideas have been added, the team works to organize the ideas into clusters of related ideas without speaking. The entire process must be completed in total silence. The groups (or clusters) are considered complete once every participant stops moving ideas around and signals their satisfaction with the groupings.
Neutrality is often considered a desirable trait for meeting facilitators, who seek to stay unbiased about the meeting content and the outcome of any decisions. A neutral facilitator pays attention to the meeting process and seeks to ensure everyone has an opportunity to contribute to the discussion but does not work to influence the decision in favor of one option or another.
See: 5 Whys
The Nominal Group Technique is a structured process for generating ideas and prioritizing the preferred options. First, the leader asks an open-ended question. Everyone silently writes down replies on individual notes (see Silent Brainstorming). After a set time, the group then shares ideas one at a time. All ideas are posted, then everyone in the group ranks their top 5 (or another predetermined number) independently. The rankings are then shared...read more
Meeting norms are the standards of behavior expected from those in a team and during a meeting. Unlike a working team agreement, which covers the tools and processes a team will use when working together, norms primarily express the group's values. This includes topics such as how people take turns speaking, how to handle conflict, and expectations about meeting preparation. Meeting norms are also known as ground rules.
Notes, or meeting notes, are the written proceedings of a meeting. Notes can be public or private, and they are typically sent to the attendees just after a meeting. Also see Meeting Minutes.
A notification is something written or printed that alerts people about an upcoming event, like an email that notifies participants about an upcoming meeting. Some formal meetings, such as board meetings, committee meetings, and those meetings subject to Open Meeting laws, have rules that say how far in advance notification must be provided before the meeting can be held.
An observer is a meeting role granted by some organizations to non-members to allow them to monitor or participate in the organization's activities. Most commonly, observers rights in the meeting are restricted to observing; they can attend the meeting and listen to the conversation, but they are not expected to actively participate in the discussion and cannot vote or otherwise officially take part in decision making.
The one-phrase close is a technique used to end team meetings. Before the group leaves the meeting, each person takes a turn sharing one word or phrase about how they're feeling regarding the work completed during the meeting. Popularized by Verne Harnish, this technique is intended to give everyone a chance to express either frustration or appreciation and bring closure to the discussion. It also helps the team leader identify who might have unresolved issues that they should follow-up on...read more
A One-on-One Meeting is used to offer support, develop relationships, and ensure mutual accountability between two people.
You can find an introduction to One-on-One Meetings in Chapter 19 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples The Manager/Employee One-on-One... read more
Open Discussion is the term used to describe unstructured dialogue within a meeting. In an open discussion, anyone present can speak for as long as they like, and there are no rules governing turn-taking, topic adherence, or other constraints on the discussion.
Unless otherwise stated by the meeting leader, open discussion is the default approach assumed to be in use for most meetings. Open discussion allows for the greatest freedom in the conversation, which makes it also the...read more
ORID is an acronym describing the 4 stages of questions that facilitators can use to focus a conversation towards a useful result. ORID stands for:Objective: questions about facts, about what is. Reflective: questions about how people react to and feel about the facts. Interpretive: questions to figure our what it means, and the implications. Decisional: questions to figure out what to do and what happens next.
ORID is a foundation of the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA)...read more
PALPaR is a technique used by presenters to create an effective exchange in response to a proposal. The name of the technique is an acronym for:Present Ask Listen Pause and Reply
To ensure the exchange will be effective, the presenter should prepare specific questions in advance and give the group an opportunity to discuss these questions together before they reply to the presenter. Then, during the Listen step, the presenter should request answers to each...read more
A Pareto Analysis is a decision-making technique used to choose a limited number of actions to take that will result in a significant impact. The analysis uses the Pareto Principle (the 80/20 rule), which states for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
A meeting parking lot helps keep track of important items that may not be useful to discuss in the current meeting. As subjects come up that don't relate directly to the topic under discussion, they are added to the group's parking lot.
The parking lot should be reviewed as part of closing the meeting. For each item on the parking lot, the leader checks whether the topic still needs to be discussed. If not, the item is removed. If the group feels it does need to be addressed, they...read more
Parliamentary Procedure is the body of rules, ethics and customs governing meetings and other operations of clubs, organizations, legislative bodies and other deliberative assemblies. Roberts Rules of Order documents the most widely known parliamentary procedures.
Participation, in a meeting context, describes a cooperative effort to give input, make decisions, resolve issues, and assign actions together. Meeting facilitators are trained to encourage participation from everyone attending the meeting in order to foster each individual's commitment to the team's objectives and make the meeting more enjoyable. While facilitation and the appropriate meeting structure can increase participation, it is ultimately the individual attendee's responsibility to...read more
The Peaks and Valleys exercise gives groups a simple visual way to share each person's unique view on the highs and lows of an experience. Groups use this exercise to help visualize events over time and see how each person's experience differs.
To use this technique, teams draw a timeline representing the event they're evaluating on a whiteboard. Then, individuals take turns drawing a line that charts their personal highpoints and low points during the event.
You can use this...read more
Perceived Meeting Quality (PMQ) is a way to measure an attendee’s feelings about a meeting. This term comes from a 2011 study that examined 18 different meeting design characteristics (such as using an agenda or starting and ending on time) to determine which ones had the biggest positive impact on how people felt about the meeting.
You can read the full study here:
Cohen, Melissa A.; Rogelberg, Steven G.; Allen, Joseph A.; and Luong, Alexandra, “...
A PEST analysis is a sense-making technique used in strategic planning and situational analysis. Participants brainstorm and map out what's changing in their operating environment, then brainstorm the opportunities and threats they can now see may arise from these changes. PEST is an acronym for Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural, and Technological, the four types of change the team lists during this activity. There are several variations on this technique with similar acronyms.PESTLE... read more
A Planning Meeting is used to create a plan and secure commitment to taking the first steps.
You can find an introduction to Planning Meetings in Chapter 24 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Project Planning Campaign Planning (Marketing... read more
A Plenary Session (or plenary) is the part of the meeting or conference that everyone attends. The term is used most often in meetings that also include time spent working in smaller groups.
For example, at a conference, the opening keynote may be considered a plenary session, since everyone is expected to attend as that's the only thing on the conference schedule at that time. During a smaller meeting or workshop, the leader may ask everyone to re-group "in plenary" following time...read more
PMI is a brainstorming technique for gathering feedback on an idea, concept, or when a team takes a retrospective look at a recently completed set of work. After introducing the idea, the group is asked to write individual notes about what they found positive (plus), negative (minus), and what they thought was neither good nor bad but interesting. Feedback is shared and charted in the three categories, then discussed by the group.
There are several related techniques that use...read more
Plus-Delta provides a quick way to gather feedback at the end of an exercise or meeting. The questions are designed to encourage candid feedback by using “improvement” language rather than language that might be considered too negative for some participants. People share the pluses from the event—what went well and should be continued or taken further going forward—and the deltas, or what they would recommend changing for future meetings.
Here's how it works.Set up... read more
Teams use the Polarity Map® technique in meetings to explore the benefits and problems with opposing factors, or poles, that play against each other when making a decision, especially when both alternatives have relatively equal validity. For example, teams may struggle with the need to innovate vs the need to manage risk, or a focus on fresh voices vs a reliance on experience. During the meeting, the facilitator draws a two-by-two grid and places the "poles" at the sides. In the top...read more
Policy of Non-Attribution
See: Chatham House Rule
A Post Mortem, in the context of meetings, is a process usually conducted at the conclusion of a project to determine which parts of the project were successful or unsuccessful. Project post-mortems are intended to inform process improvements, mitigate future risks, and promote iterative best practices.
A Powerful Starting Question is a question or set of questions that help a group visualize their answers. The questions fill a blank slate in each person’s mind with a detailed picture. The powerful starting question is a great example of the appropriate use of framing to increase meeting productivity.
A Pre-Mortem is a meeting before a project starts in which a team imagines what might happen to cause a project to fail. The team then works backward to create a plan to help prevent potential obstacles and increase the chances of success. This technique is recommended by behavioral psychologists and neuroscientists as an especially effective way of combatting cognitive bias and reducing project risk.
A presentation is when a person communicates an idea to others. The term can be adapted to various speaking situations, such as talking to a group, addressing a meeting or briefing a team.
Teams use Problem Solving Meetings to analyze a situation and its causes, assess what direction to take, then create an action plan to resolve the problem.
You can find an introduction to Problem Solving Meetings in Chapter 25 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Incident Response... read more
A PDPC is used to understand the steps related to reaching a goal then find ways to increase the chances that the plan will work as desired. During the meeting, the team reviews the project plan, looking specifically at the tasks required along the way. For each, they discuss things that could go wrong and develop countermeasures to prevent those problems from occurring.
A Progress Check Meeting is used to confirm progress on a project or initiative and to maintain project momentum.
You can find an introduction to Progress Check Meetings in Chapter 18 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples The Project Status Meeting... read more
Progressive questioning is a technique for fully exploring a topic by asking a series of related questions. There are several progressive questioning techniques designed to fit different situations.Using 5 Whys helps a group find the root cause of a problem. When conducting discovery for a new product or project, interviewers will ask questions... read more
A proxy is a representative that has been designated to vote on someone else's behalf in a meeting. The representative may be a member of the same voting body or external.
Psychological safety is a term used to describe whether a person feels it is safe to take a personal risk around their team members.
Professor Amy Edmondson and researchers at Google both found that the presence or absence of psychological safety between team members was one of the key determinants of workplace performance, since this impacted whether the group felt they could raise issues or concerns, whether it was safe to make mistakes, and whether they could risk trying more bold...read more
People ask Questions of Curiosity to learn more about the motivations, thought processes, knowledge, and experiences behind an idea. These questions ask someone to share the experiences and stories that led them to hold their current beliefs.
Questions of Curiosity are especially useful when discussing polarized or sensitive topics, because they:Combat bias Increase understanding Build trust Enhance inclusion and a sense of belonging De-escalate conflict Depolarize dialogue... read more
Quorum is a calculation of the minimum percentage of members who must be present at the meeting before business can be legally transacted. Formal meetings, such as board meetings and public meetings, must have a set percentage of members in attendance before they can conduct any official business. This is one reason groups take attendance at the beginning of a meeting.
RAID stands for Risks, Assumptions, Issues, and Dependencies. Teams may conduct a RAID analysis as part of their project planning meeting, then produce a RAID board which they can review, update, and revisit during project status meetings.
The Rational Decision-Making Model describes the steps a group would take when making a logical decision. The steps are designed to reduce the impact of biases, logical fallacies, and knee-jerk reactions on the decision to increase decision quality. These steps include:Identifying a problem or opportunity Gathering information Analyzing the situation Developing options Evaluating alternatives Selecting a preferred alternative Acting on the decision
Many decision-making meetings use...read more
The real-time agenda is a process for co-creating, prioritizing and discussing a list of topics in real time.
A real-time agenda isn’t a type of meeting. It’s a technique that you can use in many different types of meetings. We consider this one of the master techniques, because it’s useful, extremely adaptable, widely loved, and it pops up all the time. You’ll find variations of real-time agendas by many names: examples include Lean CoffeeTM, IDS, Open Space, and Unconference. You’...read more
A virtual or remote team is comprised of team members who share responsibility for achieving defined objectives and who perform from a flexible mix of stationary, mobile and/or remote work environments. Remote teams do not meet in a conference room. Instead, they use technology to meet over the Internet.
Remote work is an arrangement in which employees do not commute or travel (e.g. by bus or car) to a central place of work, such as an office building, warehouse or store. Instead, they work from home or from another location outside the main office.
Repeatability generally refers to the ease in which something can be done over and over. In a meeting context, implementing a similar process from meeting to meeting can increase the reliability of outcomes. Repeatability in achieving the desired meeting outcomes is one sign of meeting performance maturity.
A retrospective is a meeting that's held at the end of an iteration in Agile software development or at the completion of a project. During the retrospective, the team reflects on what happened in the iteration and identifies actions for improvement going forward.
Reverse Brainstorming is a technique that builds on our natural ability to more easily see problems than solutions. Instead of asking a group to brainstorm ideas that would work, the group brainstorms all the ways that they could cause a plan to fail. This technique is used because it can be easier to criticize and see gaps in a plan than to outline a strategy for success. Once the group has this list, they can look at these specific examples and come up with ways to achieve the opposite...read more
Rice at a Wedding is a term coined by Alison Davis to described a meeting where the topics haven't been curated or put into a sensible order in advance. This makes the meeting feel random and scattered, just like what you get when you throw rice at people.
This is not good practice, whether using real rice or metaphorical rice, unless you're literally at a wedding. Maybe not even then.
A risk is something that could happen to impact a plan, causing delays, the need to re-plan, or even project failure. Teams work to identify and list project risks during meetings, then develop ways to protect against, or mitigate, the chances that the risk will happen. The RAID technique for evaluating and tracking risks helps teams think more thoroughly through potential problems by capturing Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Dependencies.
Ritual dissent is a workshop technique designed to overcome taboos against publicly critiquing ideas. The goal is for the presenter to hear candid, useful feedback.
During a workshop, a presenter shares their idea with a group that listens silently throughout the presentation. Dialogue or questions are not allowed. Then, the presenter turns his or her back to the group, symbolizing having "left the room" and listens in while the group discusses either what they didn't like (ritual...read more
Robert's Rules of Order is the most widely-used manual of parliamentary procedure in America. It governs the meetings of a diverse range of organizations—including church groups, county commissions, homeowners associations, nonprofit associations, professional societies, school boards, and trade unions—that have adopted it as their parliamentary authority.
There are several roles different participants might have in a meeting. Some roles are officially appointed, some assigned on a per-meeting basis, and others simply assumed during the meeting without discussion.
Formal meetings, such as board meetings, may have people participating as: the Chair, the Secretary, Voting Members, Non-Voting Member participants, Guest Presenters, and Observers.
Structured meetings and workshops may have people assigned to...read more
The term Round Robin is used to refer to two distinct techniques.
For some, a "round robin" is just another name for a go around.
For others, a round robin is a specialized brainwriting technique in which everyone takes a turn generating and developing ideas in a group. The process relies on each team member building off previous contributions by adding clarifications, challenges, and improving upon the...read more
An RSVP is the confirmation of and response to an invitation. When team members respond to an invitation confirming they will attend, the organizer can better plan how they will run a meeting.
SCAMPER is a creative thinking and problem-solving technique that guides groups to evaluate an idea by exploring similar or related ideas. SCAMPER stands for:Substitute: looking at what can be switched out in the current idea Combine: asking how steps in the process or disparate elements could merge Adapt: how do tweak the idea to get a better result or work in a new context Modify: asking what could be possible with major changes Put to another use: asking what... read more
Screen sharing occurs when one person on a computer device can see what another person is doing on their computer. The screen sharing can give the person watching the other computer the ability to view and control what occurs on the other computer through their own computer.
Secretary is one of the defined roles in a formal meeting. The secretary’s role is to be the guardian of the process of meetings and the maintainer of the official business records. He or she often manages communication before meetings and keeps formal records of the group’s process and decisions: the minutes of the meeting.
Self-portrait introductions are an icebreaker/opener technique used in workshops. This technique works for any workshop where the group will need to collaboratively engage, including workshops where all the participants regularly work together and "know" each other. The goal is to get everyone engaged in a safe, friendly way and establish a supportive environment for the work at hand.How It Works Everyone draws themselves on a sticky note in no more than 60 seconds. The drawing should... read more
A Sensemaking Meeting is used to find answers to questions and improve shared group understanding of a topic or situation.
You can find an introduction to Team Cadence Meetings in Chapter 29 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Project Discovery Meetings... read more
You may recognize the sentence completion technique from market research studies and standardized academic tests. It works by providing the first part of a sentence, then asking people to complete the sentence in their own words. In a meeting, this technique can also be used as a sense-making or idea generation technique. After reflecting on the beginning phrase, each person would then take a moment to complete the sentence silently. Going around the room, the group would then take turns...read more
Silence in a meeting happens when people stop talking or communicating. When used strategically, silence can be a powerful collaboration and communication tool.
A silent brainstorm is a technique for generating ideas while everyone remains quiet. This allows participants to think without distractions or influence from other members of the group, and helps combat problems with groupthink and social loafing common to traditional brainstorming sessions.
See: Write, Read, Discuss
The simple consensus workshop method includes four steps.A group brainstorms ideas or responses, which are shared one at a time and posted to a shared space. The group clusters the ideas by related themes or concepts. The group names each of the clusters. The group reflects on what they now see.
This technique works in many situations to help create a shared understanding of a space and build consensus around priorities. It is very similar to the KJ...read more
Six Serving Men is a team exercise that examines an issue from twelve different viewpoints. It is based on the words of the poem by Rudyard Kipling:
I keep six honest serving men, they taught me all I knew.
Their names are What and Why and When
and How and Where and Who.
To use this technique in a meeting, provide 12 areas for answering questions related to the central topic and ask meeting participants to provide answers to each question. For example, if the...read more
The SOAR analysis technique is used by teams as part of the planning process. SOAR stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results. SOAR was developed by Appreciative Inquiry practitioners looking for an alternative to the traditional SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).
To run a SOAR analysis, ask teams to brainstorm ideas in each of the four categories. Responses are typically posted to a 2x2 matrix then discussed.
Social loafing is a term used by social psychologists to describe how some people contribute less when they work in a group than they would otherwise. When working in a group, some believe that their effort is not required since the other members of the group are taking care of the work at hand.
Research into social loafing has found that this effect is minimized in smaller groups, in groups where people know one another fairly well, and when people believe that they can be held...read more
A speaker queue is an online tool that allows meeting attendees to request to speak by virtually “raising their hand" and get into a queue. They are each subsequently given the floor to speak or present without distraction from others.
A stakeholder is an individual, group, or organization, who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project. The success of many meetings depends on ensuring that the needs and opinions of different stakeholders become part of the discussion.
A meeting where everyone stands up rather than sits down is called a standing meeting. Standing is meant to help keep the meeting short, as no one gets too comfortable. Daily Huddles are often conducted as standing meetings.
Agile practitioners hold a Stand-Up every day at the same time. The meeting purpose to bring everyone up to date on information that is necessary for coordination. Each team member gives an update on the work they've completed, what they plan to do next, and any...read more
A standing meeting is any meeting that repeats on a predictable basis and creates an ongoing obligation on participant's calendars. For example, you may have a standing meeting with your boss every Tuesday at 2pm. A standing meeting should not be confused with stand-up meetings, in which everyone remains standing throughout the meeting.
Stop, Start, Continue is an exercise used to evaluate a group's activities and make decisions about which ones to prioritize going forward. Steps include:Step 1: Setup
Create three blank lists labeled Start, Stop, and Continue. Start: Brand new initiatives or activities Stop: things the group is currently doing that aren't delivering value or that no longer align with the current priorities. Continue: things that are working and should be carried forward on the new plan.... read more
A status update is a regularly scheduled meeting, typically about a project, to exchange information. They can be held at various times during the project with different stakeholders.
The Stinky Fish technique was developed by Åsa Silfverberg at Hyper Island as way to unleash group collaboration. The purpose of the technique is to surface hidden (stinky!) issues that may block true collaboration by putting them on the table as early in the collaboration process as practically possible. The group learns to open up and communicate with increased trust in one another, reduce pretense, and generally become more receptive to new...read more
A meeting storyboard is a document containing a multi-column table used by organizers and facilitators to design the content flow for a meeting. The left column lists the key messages. The right column includes the slides or other visuals to be shown for each message. Additional columns can be added to capture timing or other details.
Strategic planning is a systematic process of envisioning a desired future and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them. In contrast to long-term planning (which begins with the current status and lays down a path to meet estimated future needs), strategic planning begins with the desired-end and works backward to the current status.
The Strategic War Room, contributed by Krister Forsberg, provides a way for leadership teams to come to a common understanding of insights about the organization. When complete, leaders get a comprehensive view (both mentally and pictorially) of the organization's strategies, goals, key stakeholders and delivery milestones. The Strategic War Room is metaphorical; a virtual "room" built by the leadership team over the course of several facilitated strategic workshops. When complete, the...read more
A straw poll is an ad-hoc or unofficial vote. Straw polls can be useful in meetings to quickly determine consensus. For example, if a conversation runs long, the leader may call a straw poll asking the group if most of them already agree, or if they should continue the discussion. Straw polls work by judging majority opinion using a quick show of hands or online yes/no vote.
Structured Go Around
See: Go Around
See: Stinky Fish
A swim lane diagram is a type of flowchart. The diagram usually shows a process, and steps are divided into categories to distinguish which departments or employees are responsible for a certain set of actions. Swimlanes may be displayed either horizontally or vertically.
A SWOT Analysis is an analysis of a group's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. A SWOT analysis may be conducted as part of an Environmental Scan in preparation for strategic planning. Strengths and weaknesses are usually internal, while opportunities and threats concern factors outside of your organization. The SWOT analysis includes steps for brainstorming, grouping, and prioritizing ideas in each category.
Synchronous communication happens when people interact in real-time. Most meetings include a dedicated time for synchronous communication.
Other examples of synchronous, or "real-time" communication include:Phone calls Bumping into someone and talking to them Dinner conversations Talking to your kids while driving them around Texting back-and-forth with your partner And any other time you spend in active conversation with other people.
See the related terms for...read more
Team Cadence Meetings are used to keep teams aligned towards a common goal, to keep everyone informed, and to ensure work momentum.
You can find an introduction to Team Cadence Meetings in Chapter 17 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples The Weekly Team Meeting The Daily Huddle The Shift-Change Meeting A... read more
Team-building activities include group activities and exercises designed to help people get to know one another and build trust. Many longer workshops and multi-day planning sessions begin with short team-building activities.
The interference of technology in our relationships, in our work, and in our day-to-day lives.
An analogy is a comparison that points out the similarity between the like features of two different things. The Analogies and Metaphors technique in meetings helps participants clarify their understanding of an issue. This technique is especially helpful when information is difficult to understand.
During the meeting, the leader asks the group to think of several analogies for the current problem or situation. For example, if the group is trying to start an online community but they...read more
Think, Pair, Share
A timekeeper in a meeting is a person who takes on the role of measuring or recording the amount of time taken to do something. The timekeeper essentially helps the facilitator move the group through the agenda, reducing the amount of stress on the facilitator or leader who is managing the discussion.
Teams may create a timeline of events together in a meeting as a sense-making exercise that helps everyone understand both what happened to lead to the current situation, learn aspects of the situation that may have been known only by some group members, and see how other people remember each event. To create a timeline, the facilitator adds one or two key events on a horizontal line. For example, they may add a project start date at one end and the current date at the other. Then,...read more
A meeting timer is used to help monitor time spent vs. time planned for the overall meeting and each segment of the meeting. Timers may also be used in large community members to limit the amount of time each person can speak on a given topic before they must give another person a turn to speak.
Toastmasters is an international organization dedicated to helping people become better public speakers. Membership is open to anyone who wants to become a more confident public speaker.
A topic in a meeting is the subject currently under discussion by the group. Topics should be chosen wisely and be relevant to all attendees. Meeting topics may be set on the agenda in advance or determined during the meeting.
A Training Meeting is used to transfer knowledge from one person or group to another.
You can find an introduction to Team Cadence Meetings in Chapter 33 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Client Training on a New Product New Employee... read more
There are multiple meeting and thinking techniques called TRIZ.
Liberating Structures describes TRIZ as meeting exercise designed to help groups identify counterproductive things they may be doing and find ways to stop (let go) the unhelpful activities. TRIZ operates on the same underlying principles of a Pre-Mortem and Reverse Brainstorming, all of which make it possible for a group to bring up uncomfortable but important negative challenges in their work in a fun, supportive...read more
The term Vegas Rules comes from the saying "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." When used in a meeting, the rule says that whatever is said in the meeting must be kept private to the people who were in the room and should never be repeated to others.
Video conferencing is a technology that allows users in different locations to hold face-to-face meetings. The technology is convenient for participants in different cities or countries because it saves the time and expense associated with business travel.
Virtual icebreakers are team-building exercises conducted during a meeting with attendees that are not in the same location. They help your team make a human connection, and can be especially useful when you run online meetings with people who are located in different geographical areas.
A virtual meeting is a real meeting held over the phone or the Internet involving one or more people who are not in the same location.
The vote-discuss-revote technique helps a group understand differences and discuss them to achieve consensus. Unlike single-round voting, this technique gives everyone an opportunity to advocate for an option they feel strongly about, and for others to change their mind after learning more from others.
At the start of the vote-discuss-revote technique, the group very briefly discusses the options then casts votes for their preferred option. If the group votes unanimously on this first...read more
Many meetings use voting to evaluate group consensus and confirm decisions. Some votes are formal and binding, such as the votes on a motion during a board meeting or other meeting using parliamentary procedures. Other votes simply make it easier to see the preferences and priorities of the group, such as those cast during Dot-Voting or straw polls.
A walking meeting is exactly what it sounds like; a meeting conducted while walking. Proponents of walking meetings say walking meetings lead to more natural conversations and enhanced creativity. They cite research that shows the benefits of exercise on the brain to stimulate creativity and problem-solving abilities.
While many advocates tout walking meetings as new way of meeting, we believe golfers may say otherwise.
If a group makes a decision during a meeting and everyone says that they support the decision, but then when they leave the room they talk privately about how they think the decision is flawed, that decision is said to have failed “the water cooler test”.
Meeting facilitators work to help everyone get all their opinions and concerns out during the meeting. The group is asked to have the discussion in the room—not later “around the water cooler”—then leave the meeting committed to...read more
A weather report is a way to run meeting check-ins and check-outs developed by Diana Larsen for teams who meet on weekly basis.
During the check-in, each person gives their weather report for the previous week’s work.
Welcome! Let’s start with a weather report for last week. We’ll go around the room, and when it’s your turn, share what the weather was like for your work this past week and why....read more
Web conferencing software makes it possible for people to hold meetings, training sessions, and webinars using the Internet. Web conferencing software features, such as those provided by Cisco WebEx, GoTo Meeting, and others, are designed to solve communication problems, making it possible for people to see each other using video conferencing, hear each other using audio conferencing, and share material such as presentations, computer screens, and chat messages. Web conferencing software...read more
A webinar is a seminar, training session, or other broadcast conducted over the Internet. Webinars feature one or more central speakers presenting information to a large group of registered attendees. While participants may have an opportunity to ask questions or answer short polls, webinars are not considered a collaborative meeting.
A whiteboard is a flat wipeable surface that teams draw and post sticky notes on during meetings. Many face-to-face meeting activities assume the group will meet in a space with one or more whiteboards available. Many web conferencing tools include a virtual whiteboard feature that attempts to make it possible to conduct some of the same group activities online.
Who, What and When are the three key questions answered when documenting an action item or task in a meeting. Every action item should clearly state What needs to be done, Who needs to do it, and When it should be done. Every task management and productivity tool will capture this information for tasks, often labeling the information the Assigned Owner, Task Description, and Due Date.
A workshop is a long interactive meeting or educational session designed to create a specialized result. Workshops are longer than the typical business meeting and require more preparation beforehand. Workshops typically involve a central trainer or facilitator who works with a set of sponsors to design the sequence of presentations, plan collaborative activities, and ensure the workshop will lead to the desired result. Workshops emphasize hands-on interaction. Strategic planning often...read more
Workshops are custom-designed meetings, usually over two hours, than can be used to achieve a myriad of goals.
You can find an introduction to Workshops in Chapter 27 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Project, Program and Product Kickoffs Team Chartering Design Workshops Value Stream... read more
World Cafe is a large group discussion technique designed to encourage the kind of intimate small group discussions one might have at a cafe on a selected topic. Participants sit at small tables with 5 or fewer other people. After a brief introduction, the group discusses a series of questions at their table. The discussion period for each question is timed, and people are encouraged to move to new tables between each discussion round. At the end of the small group discussion rounds,...read more
The Write, Read, Discuss technique was popularized by Amazon as a way to replace PowerPoint presentations in meetings.a Here's what it looks like:Written Briefings: Provide detailed written reports and proposals before the meeting. Silent Reading: Give everyone a few silent minutes to read the briefings and take notes during the meeting. Structured Dialogue: Everyone gets an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.