The Art of Planning and Preparing for Meetings

The Art of Planning and Preparing for Meetings

There are three kinds of meetings – social encounters, meetings to study and learn something, and meetings where people come together to accomplish a task. Each of these kinds of meetings has its own character, but some of the dynamics of each are present in every meeting. Meetings are an essential part of our life in organizations and especially important in the practice of collaboration.

At the end of a meeting we know how successful the meeting was by how we feel. Meetings that flow well, where there are healthy interactions and in which we touch on something important tend to leave us more energized than when we started the meeting. Meetings that are poorly planned, are not well facilitated and where something important isn’t touched on tend to leave us feeling exhausted or frustrated.

While spontaneous meetings can be exhilarating, meetings that are consciously and artfully planned and executed have the possibility of leaving us much more empowered and strengthened. The keys, therefore, to creating more empowering meetings lie in how we go about planning, facilitating and following up. In this newsletter, we explore the art of how to plan and prepare for meetings.

An agenda can be a powerful tool. When the purpose, the process, the content, the flow and the possible outcomes are well thought out beforehand, it is more likely that the meeting will be effective and empowering. Groups waste inordinate amounts of time and energy in underprepared meetings. Does everyone know what the meeting is about, what is going to happen, what is expected of them and what it is hoped the group will accomplish? Are the people leading sections of the meeting prepared? Have materials that participants need to read ahead of time been sent out in time for them to be read?

The three articles in this newsletter and a number of the related resources explore more in depth the dynamics of healthy meetings and the preparation of effective agendas.

This month, we have chosen accompanying images of hands involved in creating baskets - weaving things together to create a useful and beautiful space much like creating an agenda.

The Art of Creating an Agenda is an article that outlines some key elements to consider in planning a meeting.

In the article Working Together from his book Paths to Partnership, Chris Schafer illuminates the dynamics of a meeting, the importance of the various roles in the meeting, and ways that groups can reflect on their meeting practice regularly – all are valuable to continually improving meetings.

In the article Making Space for Spirit, Holly Koteen sheds light on ways that leaders can create space in meetings to allow for the highest in each person and in the group to shine through.