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  • Lauren Schlezinger

Designing Transformative Meetings: Roles & Agenda

Transformative meetings inspire ideas, action, and accountability. Sounds like a meeting you want to attend, right? Although the idea of designing transformative meetings sounds out of reach, I assure you anyone can do it by including five simple structures – agendas, roles, objectives, agreements, and timekeeping. Collectively, these pieces lead to meeting success every time. Keeping the meeting on track is guided primarily by the agenda and the roles of the people involved. I'll answer two key questions in this post.

Should people have specific roles?

The answer is a resounding yes! Depending on people's roles in the organization, team, and their skills/strengths, you can determine who should get what role. Each part is important in order to make your meeting a success.

I have found that analogies make concepts clearer, and in this case, a car works well. The elements are:

- Convener (ignition): The convener holds the keys to the meeting. Although participants may provide input, the convener is accountable for the meeting’s objective, agenda, participants, and length.

- Participants (engine): Like an engine keeps the car running, it is the meeting’s participants that fuel energy and focus. That’s why it’s important to create an environment that is comfortable and to take breaks.

- Topic leader (steering wheel): This person is responsible for preparing for and leading the agenda topic at hand.

- Facilitator (navigation system): This person will suggest a course and let people know when they veer off track. Participants can choose whether or not to follow the nav's directions. This person should have a calm, neutral voice/presence. Often an outside facilitator is best in this role.

- Timekeeper (traffic control): I’ve seen effective timekeeping transform the most boring, exhausting meetings into productive, interesting, and motivating conversations.

How can a well-planned agenda shape a meeting and lead to the objective?

As mentioned above, the meeting convener owns the meeting, and therefore, the agenda. A transformative agenda will include a well-defined objective, clear discussion outcomes, and appropriate timeframes.

A well-planned agenda not only makes the meeting more efficient, but it can also make the next steps more obvious. In these cases, meetings can actually make jobs easier, not feel like a waste of time. Sticking to an agenda can be hard at first but taking small steps each time your team meets will lead to more energizing and production interactions.

It's like I always say, "start with the end in mind." When you're building an agenda, think about what you're trying to achieve, who will be in the room, how much time you need, and what your meeting agreements are. Once you know all the pieces, your agenda will create itself and you'll be off to the races.

Think about what will make your meeting a success and plan for them. If you want to understand more about meeting roles or help developing an agenda, feel free to schedule a time to chat with me one-on-one.

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