Meeting structure

Before the meeting

The facilitator’s task, (20min – 60min). Equipment: Computer/ paper & pen

The best prerequisites for an effective meeting is to plan well. Therefore, it is important to establish a framework for your meeting and to define what the goal of the meeting is. Here are some good questions to consider:

Which issues should be discussed? What is the goal of the meeting? What should be prioritized? Who needs to attend in order for you to make decisions on the chosen topic?

Purpose: defining the purpose of the meeting can help you understand where the focus should be during the meeting, as well as whom to invite to participate. If the essential people are not available it might be better to postpone the meeting – rather then sending a replacement who does not have the authority to make quick decisions.

During the meeting

All participants.

This is how you do it:

Go through goals and desired results with the meeting. Review the agenda that was prepared and sent out in advance and ask if anyone wants to add something to the list. By referring to the information sent out you also ensure that participants take time before the physical meeting to prepare - because no one wants to come unprepared. Prioritize which topics are most important and what needs to be addressed first. Expose the agenda so that everyone can see it, eg. project it up on the wall, write it on the board. This helps participants to stay focused during the whole meeting. Decide on a timeline and stick to it. This helps keep focus during the meeting and prevents you from straying from the topic.

#Tip: Have a timer available.

#Tip: Ensure that the participants are read up on the topic to be discussed before the meeting. Starting a meeting with handing out printed material to be read tends to steal a lot of time. Therefore, distribute relevant material and preliminary work in a simple and short format before the meeting, so that the participants are able to overview of the context of the meeting. It can also be effective to enclose notes from the previous meeting as well as mark up discussion points for the upcoming meeting.

Purpose: By sharing relevant material in advance, you ensure that all meeting participants are on the same level – in relation to reading degree and knowledge – about the topics to be discussed.

Documentation – during the meeting

This is how you do it:

Choose someone to be responsible for the documentation during the meeting. Create bullet points for each task. List who is responsible for the task being done. Define what constitutes the task and what is required to finish it. Decide on the deadline for the task and set a date to follow-up and when to present it.

Purpose: Documenting diligently is often forgotten, but is a very helpful tool to ensure that everyone is on the same page – as well as to be able to go back and see what was discussed and who was involved.

After the meeting

The facilitator’s task, 5min -15min. Equipment: Computer

Publish the meeting notes and action plan immediately after the meeting -when the participants still have the discussions fresh in their mind. Then the meeting participants tend to be more likely to get started with their commitments directly because it does not feel difficult + you feel more efficient and competent if you deal with it immediately.

#Tip: To avoid having to sit down and e-mailing everyone involved after each meeting – create a shared box folder or Google Drive folder where you gather all the material from the meetings.

General tips

# Balance the degree of democracy and productivity.

# Start the meeting on time – no matter how many people have arrived. This creates the prerequisites for being able to quit on time as well. In addition, it creates an awareness that the participants have to arrive on time so they do not miss anything.

# End the meeting on time. If you get a reputation for being punctual, there is a greater chance that people will want to attend your meetings –  because you show that you understand that their time is valuable.

# Consider a technology-free meeting to prevent social media and email from distracting and shifting focus from the agenda. Instead, hold media breaks where participants are allowed 2 minutes to make calls, respond to emails, etc.

# Have a good meeting discipline. Everything that happens during the meeting should promote the purpose of the meeting. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t belong in the meeting.

# Take turns to push the meeting forward. If you notice that the participants start to zone out and lose focus, you can assign each person a point on the agenda where they are allowed to drive the discussion in rotating order. This can raise the commitment as everyone concentrates and must be alert before their turn to facilitate.

# Plan ahead as much as possible.

# Make sure you are… Talking about the same thing, at the same time, with the same goal in sight, within the same framework.

# Disturb! Do you notice that the meeting is heading in the wrong direction or that you are stuck – think about… What kind of coordination is needed? Is this meeting needed at all or can it be solved by mail, alt. holding 1 longer meeting instead of 4 short?

# Replace or supplement the time-based agenda with the goal-oriented agenda. Just because you discussed a topic in the 5 minutes that were set aside for that particular topic, it does not mean that you have made a decision.

# Move the meeting out of the conference room and have a walk-meeting. It is not always necessary to note – you can still remember. Often it can be just as effective to be able to associate what has been said with scents, visual impressions and sounds that you can experience outdoors. Go out in the fresh air, get energy and stimulate creative thinking. If you are at Storm, Kungsparken is just around the corner.

# Take turns to facilitate the meeting. This challenges the team to see the agenda from different perspectives and can make the participants more engaged.

10 tips for creative meetings and discussions

1. Let the participants change seats, sometime during the meeting. 2. Let the participants stand up at some point. 3. First, talk in smaller groups before you talk in the whole group. 4. Let the groups talk in another room or maybe even go out to talk. (An outdoor walking-meeting is best suited for a maximum of 3 people). 5. Divide the room into different topics you are going to discuss, eg. different tables for different topics. When it is time to change the topic you also change seats. 6. Use props to discuss things from different angles, rolls, institutions, etc. 7. Pass it forward: Write down your thoughts on a paper. After a couple of minutes pass it forward and write down your thoughts associated with the new paper you got in front of you. After a few rounds, you may have found new angles on the topic and new inspiration. 8. Draw your thoughts and den discuss them. 9. Build your thoughts about a vision or a solution in lego or clay. 10. Let everyone, individually reflect on the pros and cons in the discussion.