Guidelines for Energetic Meetings

Everyone has a unique perspective of what constitutes an “energetic meeting.” Some may believe that an energetic meeting must be lively and fast-paced; others may believe that a meeting is energetic when they leave feeling energized and uplifted.

Regardless of your own personal viewpoint of energetic meetings, you can increase the likelihood that your meetings will be more satisfying by encouraging your group to adopt certain procedures as standard. Here are some key procedures, if you want participation in your energetic meetings.

Clarify Purpose. A group’s clear purpose right from its beginning helps all other considerations and actions to become clearer.

Establish Climate for Sharing. When possible, arrange for participant comfort. Here are suggestions to consider:

* Provide name tags if the group is large or filled with strangers;
* Place chairs for all to see each other;
* Allow everyone the opportunity to speak;
* Protect the rights of individuals to have dissenting opinions and to change their opinions.

Explain Ground Rules. Let group members know what is expected; check their understanding and acceptance of procedures. Ask if they have questions about certain ground rules or give them choices that help them to interpret the ground rules. If the group is new, be certain that the members are involved in establishing these rules.

Set Goal(s). Develop meeting goals with the group and refer to them as the meeting progresses. As goals are reached, be certain that specific individuals and the group as a whole are acknowledged and applauded.

Reveal Agenda. Announce items to be covered and the meeting’s structure and process. Written agendas emphasize meeting focus and hold participants’ attention. When practical, allow group members to participate in agenda setting. Agendas distributed in advance allow participants to think through important items so the meeting is more productive and meaningful.

Be Task-oriented. Focus on the task and not on personalities or irrelevant issues. Be careful, though, not to be so task-oriented that the group overlooks or short-changes interpersonal relationships.

Listen to All. Acknowledge group members and their ideas. Not all ideas must be pursued, used, or evaluated, but all need to be received. Leaders and participants take the first step in showing that they are listening by giving direct eye contact to the speaker. Calling participants by name and referring to the comments they have made are indications that group members are listening to each other.

Monitor the Energy. If the vitality of the group wanes, notice and take actions to work with lowered energy. Sometimes it is appropriate to slow down, suggest silence, or take a break. Other times, it is appropriate to take an action that uplifts the energy.

Reflect Together on both Process and Task. Periodically, talk with each other about perceptions of a meeting or a series of meetings. Ask participants if they are satisfied or want to suggest changes. You might from time to time suggest changes to test a group’s willingness to look at itself. Without a specific time devoted to reflection, groups — both participants and leaders — can make assumptions about satisfaction of others.

Embrace an Intention of Empowerment. Decide that every meeting is an opportunity for everyone to be empowered. You can meet the opportunity with vitality and inspiration.

As you conduct and attend meetings, you need to use good sense. Each group, each meeting is unique. Experiment to find the techniques and style that produce the most productive results for each meeting.