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12 Questions to Upgrade Your Meeting Design and Facilitation
Gain important participant insights to better inform your choices.
Approximate reading time: four minutes
Ask yourself this question often:
What information from participants, if it was available to you prior to a meeting starting, would inform your design and facilitation choices?
Meetings don't have to be monotonous or unproductive, but ensuring they are engaging, productive, and efficient benefits from obtaining participant responses to inform your design and facilitation. Doing so helps build the “container” for shared understanding among the meeting participants, the conversation that follows, and the way participants engage with each other and you as the facilitator.
Principles for Asking Questions
I typically include some questions in an advance survey of participants; others are saved for discussion at the gathering’s onset. A few considerations for which approach I select:
The shorter the meeting, the fewer questions I would reserve for the actual gathering.
An advance survey can better accommodate questions that require more thoughtful responses or might cause some participants to feel a bit vulnerable answering in front of others.
Questions which would benefit from some real-time discussion among participants are saved for the start of the meeting.
Responses to any advance survey questions are always aggregated anonymously and distributed for participant review prior to the meeting. At the start of the meeting we can discuss the responses and identify their specific implications (so what?) and applications (now what?) for our time together.
The Dynamic Dozen
Here are twelve questions I often select from for my facilitation efforts.
What does success look for our time together today?
What knowledge or strengths can you contribute to the work we are about to do?
What do we need to know about your interests and agenda related to our work today?
How are you likely to engage and participate in our discussions? What's your style going to be?
What are preferences or pet peeves you have related to meetings like this one?
What information or support might help you make the most of our time together?
What lessons from the past can inform the discussions?
How should any disagreements that might emerge be handled?
Whose opinions or perspectives are not physically represented in/by those actually present today?
How do we want to capture the insights and decisions from our discussion?
How should what happens here today be shared? By and with whom? How? When?
What expectations do you have for each other? For me as the meeting facilitator?
Not all meetings are the same, but asking some of the same questions makes it easier to customize your design and facilitation. Build a portfolio of questions you find useful to help guide your choices, regularly reviewing and updating it as conditions merit.
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