Have you ever been a part of the meeting where you were feeling clueless about
- What is going on?
- How can you contribute to the agenda?
- What is expected out of you?
It happens a lot for many of us! Sometimes I also feel so confused in the meeting. I want to contribute! Topic is related to me/my work! Whatever is going to be decided, going to affect me! But I feel completely clueless on what should I do/ speak here?
It sometime feels that everyone in the meeting is going in the different directions, and then there is no clear thread that hold us together.
Even people have different understanding of the expected outcome from the agenda discussion. We have agenda item but not everyone has clear understanding of what is expected in that agenda? What do we want to do after discussing that agenda? What is the next step?
I would like to share an experience of my one meeting, and how not having clear understanding of the expected outcome has derailed us in the agenda, and how we have spent a lot of time pushing each other’s boundary.
We’ve been receiving inputs from the external consultant for the growth related activities. I wanted to have a meeting of people who are passionate about this in the organization (we are self-organized and virtual), and would like to discuss, if these suggestions are relevant to our context and if yes, how we would like to integrate these growth suggestions. Agenda and the context of the meeting was shared with everyone before the meeting day.
And the meeting day came! I happened to facilitate the meeting. We started talking about the agenda… after a while there were clear two divisions in the group. One was about understanding what it entails to integrate these suggestions, and another one was about how do we operationalize it. As I observed it, I put it between the space.
We then first decided to clarify what it entails to integrate these suggestions. As soon as we completed that clarification, everyone was in acceptance that it is in the best interest of organization to integrate these suggestions. Next step was to decide, how do we do it. We started talking about how do we do it in the round (every one speaks one after another, and no cross talk in between). We did two rounds of thinking/ brainstorming. As it happened, in the second round people started responding to other’s comment/ idea/ thought (it was feeling like a conflict in the meeting, and as if there are different perspective/ thoughts).
We (I and one another member) soon realized that we are divided into two groups/ opinions again, and it seemed like we were responding to each other. But in reality, we were responding/ reacting to two different things.
One group of people was talking about how do we deliver these kinds of training (consultant’s suggestion was on the training), while another group of people was focusing on how do we communicate about these kinds of training with our potential clients. As we put it in the space, everyone became aware about it. We were able to prioritize the scope of this agenda soon, and we decided to limit the scope to the communication aspect only, and for delivery, the training team (everyone present in the meeting was not a part of the training team) can meet outside, and can come up with a plan to deliver it.
It was so fluid and efficient when everyone in the meeting became aware about what are we attempting here. What is the expected outcome of this discussion? What is the next step we are looking for?
It helps to have the clear expected outcome from each agenda item in the meeting.
Ask questions (preferably before the meeting) like,
- Why do we want to discuss this agenda item in the meeting?
- What is the next step/ action item we are looking for?
- What is the expected outcome from this agenda?
This help in clarifying the outcome/ intention and can enable everyone to contribute more efficiently and effectively. These questions also help in getting clarity around who all need to be a part of the agenda discussion.
Also, observing what is happening in the space, guides to do the necessary intervention as a facilitator. And put out your observation(s) and sensing between the people/ in the space.
Do you see more learning out of this experience? Do you have similar learning/ experience to share? Please share that in the comments. I would love to learn about it!
With Joy & Appreciation,