Template for a good meeting

After a meeting with a business partner today, I felt quite dissatisfied. Reflecting on the situation, I realised that I had not held the frame in which the conversation happened well: I had not influenced the situation well enough to make it function better for me.

To remind myself and prevent this from happening again, as an exploration to make something implicit explicit, and possibly as an inspiration to you, dear reader, here is a

Template for a good meeting

This can be a work in progress and evolve as we understand it better.


Version 1.0

  1. Setting up / checking in
    1. Check the physical space for any constraints or problems – light, sound, air?
    2. Check into the psychological states of all people – are they fully here? Anything that needs to be taken care of before we can start?
    3. Establish Purpose: why is everyone here? What made you come? What do you wish/hope for? (Consider using “Mad Sad Glad Afraid”.)
    4. Check the timeframe: how much time is available? (A good meeting with people who don’t know eachother usually takes 90 minutes+. Plan with 120 minutes if possible, then you will make it in 90. Sometimes it takes 120. Rarely it takes 60. People who know eachother can work something out in 45-60 minutes, but even here, most important things take 90 minutes. Be very, very aware when there are less than 60 minutes available.)
  2. Meeting
    1. Listen attentively. What is happening? What is really happening?


    2. Keep your speech acts short to allow for processing and response. Beware of speed, monologues, series-of-questions and questions followed by statements.
    3. Find a powerful question.
    4. At the latest at half-point in the meeting, reassess purposefulness: it the purpose being met? Is the purpose still relevant?
    5. Use visualisations when possible – consider using a shared piece of paper to express on collaboratively.
  3. Closure / Checking out
    1. When purpose is met, move to closure.
    2. Capture outcomes and next actions, make sure they are clear and explicit to all.
    3. Given trust and time, allow for silence and a) an exploration of Shadow (“what did we _not_ speak about?”) and b) and exploration of possibility (“what else could we do / speak about / explore (possibly next time)?”)
    4. Given trust, time and interest, reflect on the process together.
    5. Enjoy the satisfaction of an accomplished meeting together.
    6. (Then celebrate or get to work.)

What else is helpful? What is missing? What are your best practises, patterns and strategies for a good meeting? Please join in in the comments below!

Thank you to Ville Keränen for the reminder on the Art of Hosting principles which inspired this post.

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