Collaboration is a buzz word in the workplace these days, and though it can be overused, there is truth to the expression “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Collaborative meetings, done well, means getting more done and creating greater outcomes than working in silos.
Here are three tips for more organizing more productive and collaborative meetings.
Set the scene
When a collaborative approach is the right fit for the goal of your meeting, make it explicit in the set-up that participation is expected of everyone. Let your participants know that the meeting is not a “spectator sport.” Set frames for how people can contribute - a clear meeting purpose and goal is essential for this.
Read our blog post about creating an effective agenda here
A simple facilitation technique to bring everyone’s voice to the table is to “take a round”.
Use an open question and go around the table, giving everyone the opportunity to respond. You can also use a “check in” and “check out” round at the start and end of the meeting. A “check in” question could be “what do you most want to get from this meeting?” or “what questions do you have for this meeting?”. A “check out” question could be “what are you taking from this meeting and what are your next steps?”.
Make it visual
Visual tools like flip charts and sticky notes are an excellent way to facilitate collaboration and get ideas flowing and participants building on each other’s ideas. The great thing about sticky notes is that you can move them around, change the order they are arranged in and cluster related ideas.
Creating large scale visual touchpoints such as mind maps or a visual representation of a project plan or strategy implementation gives everyone a sense of creating something together. It also adds visual and kinaesthetic elements which helps people engage and learn.
Using online tools to share the task of note-taking and to share documents, images and information also enhances collaboration. The great thing about online tools is that you can use them to start collaborating before the meeting and keep the momentum going afterwards too.
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