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Avoiding Death by Meeting

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    1. Avoiding Death by Meeting Joe McVeigh TESOLNew York April 5, 2008

    3. Overview Is this a discussion group or a demonstration? What are the big questions for you? Need to vent ? Discussion A few tips Small group discussion

    4. The problems) with meetings Lack of focus Domination by a few speakers Tangential ideas and topics Decision points Unfinished business Making hard choices and prioritizing Dealing with conflict (or lack of conflict) Structural issues purpose Brainstorming ideas Dealing with multiple roles

    5. You can download these PowerPoint slides so you dont need to take copious notes unless you really want to!

    6. Lack of focus The meeting wanders from topic to topic without really getting anything done. Frame the meeting in terms of outcomes. Assign a sheepherder. Make a clear agenda and stick to it. Have a process observer and check in from time to time.

    7. The chatterbox What to do with that one person who dominates the discussion and just doesnt seem to know when to shut up. Frame the meeting in terms of outcomes. Assign a sheep herder. Ask for limited responses Invoke the introverts bill of rights Have a process observer and check in from time to time. Conduct a turn-taking observation study

    8. Going off topic What to do with interesting or potential ideas that arent central to the discussion at had. Create a parking lot and assign someone to maintain it. Be sure to plan in the agenda time to revisit the parking lot at the end of the meeting. Follow up and be sure to schedule time to address the issues in the future.

    9. What did we decide ? At the end of the meeting or at another meeting in the future, you arent sure if you decided anything. You talk and talk about an issues, but need to move on because of time constraints. Have one person responsible for checking in at the end of each topic: So, what did we decide? Are we all in agreement? Record what you decided and circulate it.

    10. Who gets to decide ? People voice support for an idea, but later find that their advice was not taken. A group makes a decision that is changed by someone with more authority. Be clear on who gets to decide: Supervisor/director decides Director decides with input from the group The group lists options The group decides

    11. Making sure things get done Decisions are made, but then nothing happens After each decision create Action items What was decided? What needs to be done? Who will do it? By what date? Minutes-taker records Individual records Follow up at next meeting

    12. Making difficult decisions We talk and talk but have a hard time actually deciding things. Simplify by breaking the decision into pieces. Let people vote by prioritizing with sticky dots. Evaluate based on potential impact vs. amount of required resources.

    13. Conflict We shy away from conflict because as ESL teachers we prefer harmony, but therefore we avoid surfacing differences and sometimes having our voices heard. View conflict as an ally. Facilitate different points of view in ways that dont involve confrontation. Realize that conflict can help alleviate boredom and add interest.

    14. Structural problems We meet once a week and try to do everything in that one meeting. Dont schedule meetings unless you need to. Use different meetings for different purposes. Daily check in (5 min) Weekly update (1 hr) Planning (quarterly 1-2 days)

    15. Brainstorming We never seem to get beyond the ideas we already had. Use affinity charting with sticky notes Circulate 3x5 cards and have people add in comments Push people beyond their comfort level.

    16. Multiple roles One person is trying to do everything: direct the program run the meeting take the minutes be sure everything gets done Have separate and distinct roles, some of which rotate: Facilitator Minutes recorder Flip chart scribe Process observer

    17. Questions and discussion

    18. Thanks for coming. Please help clear the room for the next presentation. Give me a minute to get my stuff out of the way and Ill be happy to talk with you out in the hall. Remember you can download the PowerPoint slides at www.joemcveigh.org