Master Facilitator Journal | Issue #0305, June 19, 2007 ....

Dear friends,
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This week, I'm writing for your clients who you want to inspire to be more facilitative as participants in their groups. Feel free to pass this week's article, "Make Every Meeting Yours," to all those who you would like to empower to embrace the leadership role in their groups, whatever their formal position.

Have a great week!

Steve Davis
Publisher and Founder of

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The Point

Make Every Meeting Yours
Claim Your Power as a Meeting Participant

Group Skill

When participating in a meeting lead by someone else that’s going nowhere, we often hear people say, “What can I do? It’s not my meeting.” While this is one way to look at it, here are three reasons you’d benefit by changing this perspective.

1. Put your time to good use by making it your meeting.

If You’re in the Meeting, You’re Already Giving it Your Time and Energy. What if you were to change that little voice in your head that’s saying, “This isn’t my meeting so I can’t do anything about it,” to one that says, “Hey, I’m giving up an hour or more of my life here that I could be using to do something else. So I’m going to make this meeting work for me.” This shift in attitude marks the beginning of creating an entirely different experience.

2. If You Resent Being There But You’re Doing Nothing About It, You’re Hurting Yourself.

When you're in a situation that brings you pain, frustration, or unhappiness, and you’re doing nothing to change it, you’ve made yourself a victim of circumstance. Come close. I have a secret to tell you. There are no victims of circumstance! No matter what the circumstance turns out to be, you always have a choice in how to respond to it. Sometimes this choice is a change in behavior, sometimes a change in attitude, sometimes both. The longer you languish in the victim mode, the less powerful you'll feel. The less powerful you feel, the easier it is to be a victim. You have more power than you think to change any situation, and unlimited opportunities to own and use this power. Taking action in your meetings is a good place to practice this.

3. How You Show Up in Meetings Has Strategic Importance to You and Your Career.

In their book, “Mastering Meetings,” the 3M Management Team cites the following finding: Many executives scout for talent at meetings. In a survey of business leaders, 87% said they gauge people’s management abilities according to how well they lead meetings. Nearly the same percentage (81%) said they assess managerial ability on the basis of how well people participate at meetings. Clearly, meetings are the training ground for managers. With that said, consider what George Kieffer, author of “The Strategy of Meetings” has to say about why your performance in meetings is good for your career.

“Your performance may often be judged on the basis of your performance in meetings. Because how you handle a meeting reveals how you might handle a future job necessarily full of meetings. Leadership jobs in particular are about managing people. In meetings you get to see how people manage people. When you show up for meetings, do you meet as a substitute for work or as a tool to get something done? Are you a passive participant wasting time or a focused manager? Can you prioritize? Do you listen? Can you handle more responsibility? These relatively brief moments form the basis upon which profound judgments are made. In essence, every meeting you attend is a prospective job interview and a current job evaluation.”


Take the following actions to make every meeting yours.

  • Own every meeting you attend. If you begin to lose interest, ask yourself, “How can I make this meeting work for me right now?” If in doubt about how welcome your inputs might be, place it safe by coming from a place of curiosity. Ask questions to get clarity on everyone's part. For example, "Excuse me, I thought we were talking about the hiring process and now we seem to be talking about the budget, did I miss something?" Or, "Apparently I was daydreaming and missed hearing the objective of this meeting, can someone restate that for me?"

  • When you begin to resent being in a meeting, either do something positive or leave. You’ve lost twice if you’re just sitting there letting resentment build. You lose first by wasting your time not contributing or being productive. You lose again by building a storehouse of negative emotion you’ll carry into your day, night, and perhaps longer, which will likely taint the work and relationships you engage in for some time after. Take a bold, positive action to help the meeting work for you, or excuse yourself to gather yourself to return more focused, or to do something more productive.

  • Participate in every meeting as if it was a job interview. Even if it isn’t, this perspective will keep you sharp, help you grow, and assure that you contribute to the best of your ability, which serves you and your team members.

  • Make a metaphor of your experience. The complexities of group dynamics can be often be overwhelming. One way to see more clearly when emotions and confusion reign is to go inside yourself for a moment and create a metaphor for your experience. Ask yourself, "What image or object evokes the same thoughts and feelings that I'm sensing right now?" When something shows up, ask yourself, "How can I this image to help the group decide what to do next?"

    For example, consider yourself in a meeting where the group is trying to deal with two important issues. One is the selection of a software approach that is rather urgent. The other is a chronic staffing problem. The group looses focus and flounders with their vacillation around these two topics.

    As you ponder this dichotomy, you ask for a metaphor to show up. You sense an inner tension, a bit like the feeling you get when you place the same poles of two separate magnets together and they repel each other. In this configuration, they remain separated. Reverse one’s orientation however, and they immediately become one.

    Ah-ha. That’s it! These two issues are like opposite poles of the same problem but perhaps they need to be handled separately in a different space and time. If each topic is given it’s own space, you ’ll have the opportunity to apply your energy to solving one problem and won’t be distracted by the other. With this insight, you pipe in to suggest dealing with the software issue now and schedule another meeting devoted entirely to solving the staffing issue. You are praised for your brilliant intervention and the group comes together to solve the software issue.


Is there an ongoing meeting in your life that you could more fully own? If so, what do you plan to do about it this week? Reply to this email and let me know how it turns out.


How to Make Meetings Work, by Michael Doyle

Although at first glance I was skeptical, this book provided great insight into running a meeting that participants will actually enjoy and get something out of. It was not just a repeat of the things I already knew. After reading this book and implementing some of the ideas, people noticed the improvements from clear agendas which stated the purpose, to the approach used during the meeting to make sure we were all aligned and in agreement on what we were to achieve. I highly recommend this book. --Anonymous Reader--

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