Setting up (online) meetings right


The biggest pitfalls in (online) meetings

YOUR FIRST STEP: Choose the basic Setup for your meeting

When you are setting up a meeting, you do have to take a basic, but very important choice right in the beginning: Will the meeting be

1) “all equals“, meaning that all participants are on the same level and can contribute to process & content, or will the meeting be

2) moderated, i.e. will you or somebody else be the Meeting Master conducting it and be responsible for the process.

This setup has a huge influence on the entire meeting, its pitfalls and its outcome.

All Participants have the same status – A good meeting choice?

Unmoderated Meeting

There are enticing advantages of setting up a meeting of equals

  1. Equality feels right.
  2. Any member can change the path any time. If participants are knowledgeable and experienced in using moderation tools, they can suggest appropriate tools, like One-Point-System, query by acclamation, mind mapping or topic memory.
  3. It is easy – no need to prepare the process and can be set up in no time.

Meeting Tip
Use unmoderated meetings only with small participant numbers (2-4). They work best with result-oriented, meeting experienced, well prepared and conscientious team members. Best for creative and open-ended meetings (“Let´s just pick our brains”).

There are also several pitfalls of setting up a meeting of equals

  1. Participants tend to talk over each other so ideas get lost
  2. People are interrupting each other
  3. Speaking times might differ widely because “John” really likes himself talking which leads to just a few using up all the speaking time
  4. “Sally” abstains from sharing her good ideas
  5. Ideas are repeated several times 
  6. Meeting Rules are continuously broken
  7. Nobody bothers summarizing interim or final results, so that plenty of meetings end with no clear outcome

Moderated Meeting

Your team enjoys quite a few advantages by having your meeting actively moderated

  1. Have one person (the “moderator”) responsible for bringing the process forward, not only his own arguments
  2. Improve the group dynamics by having a dedicated “rule enforcer”
  3. Have the moderator structure the talking session with clear instructions given
  4. Have somebody actively inviting “feeble” or “disinterested” participants and their ideas out
  5.  Have a dedicated person to summarize, structure, break and bring the process forward

Meeting Tip
Be sure to appoint somebody to lead and structure a meeting if the discussion points are controversial or heated. Also make sure there is a moderator if you are expecting less results-oriented or unprepared participants.
It is also recommendable to have somebody moderate (in the truest sense of the word) if participants face big disparities in experience and/or agreeableness.
Best method for result-oriented, time sensitive meetings of any size (“Let´s not waste time nor miss out on good ideas”).

If you are moderating, put the objective of the meeting down in writing. If you are a team member yourself and have vested interest in a specific outcome, pass the buck. You can´t win that one.

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Presseartikel “Der schnellste Weg zum Meistermoderator”

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