One of my core philosophies is the idea of transformative meetings. If you follow five simple structures – agendas, roles, objectives, agreements, and timekeeping – you can achieve meeting success every time. I recently came across two additional agreements or norms that I think can be really helpful in creating transformative meetings and wanted to share them with you.
1. WAIT. Ask Why am I talking? I laughed out loud when I heard the facilitator propose this question as a group norm. As someone who is very comfortable sharing in groups, and generally process information by talking things out, it’s a question I need to ask myself before speaking. Remember, the goal of group conversations is to hear a diverse range of perspectives in a respectful way. The ultimate goal being to generate creative solutions. If a few people (usually outgoing personalities) monopolize the conversation, the group loses.
This norm dovetails into a framework I suggest often when facilitating meetings. Ask yourself three questions before speaking:
Is it TRUE?
Is it KIND?
Does it IMPROVE UPON THE SILENCE?
If you can’t honestly answer yes to all of those questions, then hold onto your thought. Remember, silence does not mean you have nothing to say. It means you are actively listening and waiting for the right time to add something worthwhile with your team.
2. What's said in the room stays in the room. What's learned in the room leaves the room. At first, this might sound contradictory, but the nuance is what makes it so important. Sharing who said what; what you agreed with and what you didn't; how the decision got made; things like that are not helpful for people who were not in the room to hear. Those types of comments can be gossipy and spread negativity and do not impact next steps or someone's role in achieving the goal at hand.
Instead, share what the decision was, how it impacts that person's role and responsibilities, what you need from them, and the timeline. That content is what was learned in the meeting and leads to productivity and positive energy. It is good for all members of a team, especially the ones not in the room, to understand what the long-term goals are so that they understand how their work helps the larger team.
I know that sometimes creating rules at the beginning of a meeting can feel awkward, but these structured norms can boost productivity and interpersonal relationships. They are worth it!
If you want to talk about group norms or other elements of transformative meetings, I'd love to connect with you! Drop me a line.