Bob: “Hey Wendy, we have this facilitation training coming up. Do you want to collaborate to put it together?”
Me (Wendy): “Sure. So, how do you want to start?”
Bob: “Well, I think we should do exactly what we will tell people. Facilitation starts WAY before any meetings. So, let’s jot down what we do to prepare for a meeting.”
Me: “Great! I always practice what I’ve preached.”
Bob: “So, I first go through the thinking process that we’ve already taught people: to figure out whether I need a meeting or not (sync / async). If I do need a meeting, here’re the few things that I think of:
- Who do I need in that meeting to achieve the goal and outcome while having enough viewpoints so we don’t miss any angles?
- How do I invite the people I’ve identified?
- What words do I use, and what tone do I take?
- Is there any pre-work for the attendees, and how do I frame that work?
- How do I shape the expectations of the meeting?
- What pieces of communication are needed, on top of the meeting invite with an agenda?”
Me: “I like how you think. We need to emphasize that an agenda isn’t enough, that people have to be more intentional than writing a simple agenda like ‘Sync to talk about blah-blah-blah.””
Bob: “Yes. So, let’s go through the 6 points I mentioned, starting with who I need in the meeting. The people that we need in any meetings (sync/async) include:
- who has specific information or knowledge about that particular topic,
- who is directly impacted by the decision that would be made in the meeting,
- who has the authority to make such decisions.
Anyone else can read or hear about the decision later and not waste their time sitting in the meeting. That way, we ensure that we don’t have extra people, making the meeting bigger than necessary while either wasting their time or having them slow down the discussion or decision-making process.”
Me: “Totally! I always see that people tend to invite everyone they can think of who might miss out. The problem with that thinking is that you’ll invite people who aren’t necessarily vested in the outcome. You’re wasting their time. I sense that people invite too many to cover all their bases – FOMO, if you will. But some people only need to be informed – they don’t necessarily need to be in a meeting, as we’ve said before. Do you know how often I just sat in meetings when I could have read a summary in an email and trusted the others with the decision they needed to make?”
Bob: “Exactly! Hey, I have to run. Let’s continue later today.”