Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0296, April 3, 2007 ....

Dear friends,

This week's issue, "Just Say No," speaks to those of us who participate rather than lead meetings, many of which would have been better left unattended. In this article, we look briefly at our reasons for attending meetings, offer tips to assess the need for your attendance, and how to bow out gracefully from those that aren't a good fit for you. I look forward to hearing your experience on this topic.

After the article, I offer you an invitation to be involved in a focus group designed to inform the completion of my new book, "This Meeting Sux, I'm Stepping In...With Conscious Acts of Leadership." I look forward to you joining us if this topic interests you. If it doesn't, feel free to "Just Say No!"

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher and Founder of


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The Point

Just Say No
You don't need to attend every meeting you're invited to.
Know when to "Just say no."

Self-Facilitation Skill


Do you show up to every meeting you’re invited to? And, perhaps an even bigger question is, how often have you shown up for a meeting without even knowing it’s purpose?

Many meetings aren’t as effective as they could be because the wrong people are there. Meaning, people with information and experience necessary to further the agenda are missing. Or, people who have nothing to contribute, or even worse, people who contribute distractions and send the group off on tangents, are present and shouldn’t be.

Your first task as an effective meeting participant is to attend only those meetings for which you have relevant experience or contributions to make. Besides, meetings that exceed seven to eight participants can become counterproductive. Meetings work best when attended by the smallest possible collection of the right people.

But I have to go, I was invited!

Come on now. If someone invited you to a reading of the stock prices listed in the Wall Street Journal, would you go? Not that this wouldn't be a fascinating subject to many, but this information can be acquired more efficiently using other means, like reading the paper!

Are you attending, by chance, as a substitute for work. If so, bad boy/girl! This is not all that uncommon as sometimes we simply need a break from work. Also, people often attend meetings because they don’t want to miss anything. Or they attend to meet their need for affiliation with others. These needs are better met in other ways. Trying to get them met indirectly in a meeting intended for work will be counterproductive both for you and those in attendance.


When to say "No."

It’s been said by the most successful people that their ability to say “no” is more important than their ability to say “yes” in getting them to the top of their organizations. Next time you’re invited to attend a meeting, ask yourself the following questions to see if you truly need to be there. If you can’t answer any of these questions in the affirmative, consider gracefully bowing out, drawing, if necessary, on one of the strategies above.

  • Does the meeting have a clear objective that requires your involvement?
  • Is there a better alternative to you being physically present at the meeting?
  • Are you only attending because this is a regularly scheduled meeting?
  • Do the costs of your time at this meeting outweigh its potential benefits?
  • Will missing this meeting produce any negative effects?

How to say "No.

There are meetings to which you are invited that would perhaps be better left unattended--at least by you. Here are a few ways to gracefully decline going to a meeting that you sincerely believe doesn’t require your attendance.

  • Ask the leader what her objective is prior to attending a meeting. If it’s undefined, unclear, or clearly irrelevant to what you’re doing or able to contribute, then say so nicely and decline attending.
  • Ask the leader outright if your attendance is necessary based on what you’re working on at the time. Your attendance could present a bad time tradeoff depending on the importance and priority of the work you’re doing. Ask the leader to help you make that assessment.
  • As a general rule, meetings are overused to transmit information. If that’s the intended purpose of a particular meeting, suggest trying a telephone call, a teleconference, or email instead.
  • Just say you’re not available or have someone else attend for you.

Have I missed any reasons not to attend meetings here? Any other "Just Say No" strategies that you've found useful?


Can you say "no" to meetings? I'd love to hear about your experiences and insights in navigating the meeting minefield. Just reply to this email and tell me what you've learned or need to learn.

This Meeting Sux Focus Group

I'm moving forward on my book, "This Meeting Sux, I'm Stepping In...With Conscious Acts of Leadership." This book will include at least 25 Conscious Acts of Leadership that can be taken by meeting evangelists...meeting participants who want the tools to transform otherwise boring, energy-draining, frustration endurance sessions into productive events. We plan to self-publish this book in both hard copy and ebook formats.

We're offering two opportunities for you to be involved.

1. We're seeking contributing authors to write chapters; approximately 2-page "Acts." Authors will be credited for their contribution with a full byline and will also be provided special pricing on bulk purchases.

2. We plan to start a focus group consisting of one-hour teleconferences held twice monthly and an email listserve. Here's what these groups will entail:

- We'll be asking you to share stories, tactics, and strategies that have worked for you in moving meetings forward as a participant.
- We'll ask you to review and comments on "Acts" we've written.
- Brainstorming development and revision of tactics, and strategies meeting participants can you to move meetings forward.
- Your willingness to try new behaviors at your meetings and report back to us on what happens.
- You can participate on a teleclasses only basis, a listserve only basis, or both

What's in it for You?

- As a focus group participant you'll learn strategies and tactics you can use to significantly improve the quality of the meetings you lead or attend and your standing as an employee or group member.

- If you are a contributing author, you will be able to represent this book to your clients as a co-author.

- Active focus group participants will also be provided special pricing on bulk purchases offering you a new income stream. This will be a great book for trainers to sell or give out to their participants who otherwise may not seek this kind of information.

What's Next?

If you can commit to participating at any level described above,
please send a blank email to:

We'll respond with instructions, dates for the upcoming calls and add you to our listserve.

Note to Publishers
Would you like to republish this or other articles from the journal? You are f$ree to do so providing you follow these guidelines.

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In the Spotlight

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Skills and attitudes for the new facilitator or group member who wants to get their group into serious motion.

25 Actions You Can Take to Empower Any Group

This class will meet for five consecutive weekdays April 16-20, 2007 to cover 25+ facilitative actions you can take to empower and move groups forward. This course is for beginning facilitators or group members that simply want to know more about facilitation so that they can make the groups they are a part of more effective.

How the 5-Day Format/Training works...
1. You dial into your class every day for 5 days (Mon-Fri) for a 60-minute focused training segment using a conferencing bridge.
2. You work a 25-point checklist during the 5 days (about an hour a day of study and field work) which you complete by Friday afternoon, or sooner if you wish.
3. During the week, you may access the instructor via email for help or situational questions.

5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation Training Agenda...
Here's what you'll be learning and doing during the 5-Day course...

Introduction to the Facilitation and Self Facilitation Skills.

1. Create the Ambience.
2. Share the Dream.
3. Get Facilitation
4. Juggling.
5. Me First.

Relating with compassion and understanding.

6. Be Ignorant.
7. Make Smiles Happen.
8. Hold 'em High.
9. Acknowledge the Elephant.
10. Turn on Your Crap-Detector.

Group Dynamics and Facilitation

11. Build the Container.
12. Build trust.
13. Mine the Unexpected.
14. Evolve Your Team.
15. Honor the Process.
16. Facilitate Full Participation

Organizing and Presenting yourself confidently, professionally, and authentically. 

17. Prepare for Success.
18. Get Real.
19. Make Experiences, Not Speeches
20. Watch the Body Talk.
21. Be your message

Intervening to shift group energy

22. Tame the Tormentors.
23. CareFront.
24. Use the Struggle.
25. Break through barriers.
26. Facilitate from Within.
27. Embrace Facilitation as a Master's Path

Benefits to you of participating from the 5-Day Random Acts of Facilitation Training...
1. Get a great introduction to the concept and practice of facilitation skills if you are contemplating becoming a facilitator, team leader, board member, manager, mediator, etc.
2. Never waste another minute in an ineffective meeting again.
3. Learn how to challenge and empower every group you come in contact with.
4. Learn skills to help groups make quantum leaps in their effectiveness.
5. Be a catalyst for positive change in your community.

Also included with your training...
In addition to the 5-Day training described above, you also receive:
1. Access to the participant-only website (lots of resources, forms, etc.).
2. Access to the RealAudio version of the 5-Day training.
3. F$ree copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value).

Pricing and Dates...
The full cost of training/access is only $89, which includes a free copy of the Portable Article Bank ($29 value). Everything you read about above is included. And, we offer a 100%-satisfaction-guaranteed guarantee. Class meets at 1:00-2:00pm EST daily, April 16-20, 2007.

Please click here and you'll be taken to the teleclass registration page. Register there and you'll see your discount computed and applied as you check out. Immediately upon completion of your registration, you will receive an email with instructions to access the course and free article bank. This course is limited to 20 individuals, first come, first served.

About the satisfaction guarantee
If, for any reason, you are not satisfied with this package, simply email us with a request to refund/credit your credit card in the full amount and we will do so immediately. It's our policy to do this and we honor this in every single case.

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