A guide to designing effective meetings
In todays meeting landscape organizations have an endless number of different meetings every week. Information sharing meetings, team building meetings, decision-making meetings, workshops and client meetings. Every meeting is designed differently depending on the meeting facilitator, the organization, the participants and the results the meeting aims to achieve. One aspect though is shared by all meetings. They get a number of two or more people together into one shared time slot. In terms of resources, this means that every hour the meeting takes is multiplied by the amount of participants in the meeting. A 2 hour team building workshop with 20 staff members for instance is equivalent to the time spent by one staff member in one full 4o hour work week. Now, think about how much a single person could achieve in a week and how highly we value that time, both in terms of money and commitment.
This leaves us with the question: How come, in many working environments, a 2 hour meeting isn’t valued equally?
Putting some time and effort into designing meetings that are meaningful is essential to make the participants feel the time is not put to waste. Doing so will create more engagement, efficiency and a quicker way to reach purposeful and useful results. Here’s a guide on how to.
How to plan your meeting
The IDOART meeting design tool
What is an IDOART?
An IDOART is an incredibly efficient tool to design effective meetings or any other kind of process. It’s a guide that supports you as the facilitator of a session in outlining and clarifying the meetings purpose, structure and goals. An IDOART is often used in the beginning of the meeting to create a common sense of purpose and safe space by giving the participants clarity on why they are there, an overview of what will happen and what the meeting aims to achieve. It can be used to design everything from a shorter meeting like a debrief to longer sessions such as workshops or conferences. Once your IDOART is completed, try applying it into the Process template to get a better feeling of the timeline and flow of your session.
Answers the “why?”. What is the intention of the meeting? Why are you and the participants there?
By the end of the meeting, what specific outcome should have been reached? These could be products, knowledge and/or feelings.
A step by step schedule of core activities. What steps are needed for the group to reach the Desired Outcome?
Who does what? What roles or responsibilities are needed for a smooth process? Clarify who is facilitating, documenting and timekeeping as well as participating and what is expected of the different roles.
Are there any rules, principles or guidelines for the meeting? These could relate to group behaviors, but also to more practical things such as the use of screens, the relation to the space/room or time and communication.
How much time is the meeting expected to take? When does it start and end, and when will there be breaks? Are there any deadlines that need to be taken into consideration?
Steps for designing your meeting/session
using the IDOART
To create an IDOART for your meeting, start by filling in the elements you know. The rest will follow.
Clarify and write down the Intention and Desired Outcome before building your agenda in detail.
Fill out the Agenda, Rules, Roles and Times. Make iterations on your meeting design process and refine to improve your IDOART.
Once you have an IDOART for your meeting, you can continue creating an even clearer structure by creating IDOART:s for every element of your agenda.
Revise your Intention and Desired Outcome to make sure your meeting structure still aligns with the purpose.
Present your IDOART at the beginning of your meeting as an overview. Invite the participants to ask questions and make suggestions for changes so that everyone is on board with the plan before starting.
Templates and text by Fantastic Studios, original source unknown.