The ideal is that people arrive fully prepared and ready to proceed in an environment which is fully suited to the task ahead. Read More
But reality is often not like that. Sometimes the people you need are unavailable or late, and when they arrive physically (or virtually) their minds can often be somewhere else entirely.
And the venue (physical or virtual) can also be a challenge. Poor venues (rooms or technology) can set up reactions and challenges which distract people from the task at hand, and make it difficult to facilitate the interactions that you need.
And while we may think we are rational beings, and these things are of little importance to arriving at a decisions, the reality is that they can have a big influence on our initial disposition and how we react to different stimuli.
Arrival is about maximising the speed of getting to the most favourable start point through preparation of people and facilities.
Physical and virtual facilities alike can have a big impact on ‘arrival’.
Easy access, clear directions, ease of use and familiarity can all serve to put people at ease and create an appropriate sense of expectation. Text, imagery, lighting, sounds, layout and welcome all serve to send out conscious and subconscious messages which impact people’s initial attitude. Read More
We recommend that you arrive 15 minutes early, and take the time to set up the room with easily visible guidance on the objectives, agenda, any ‘arrival’ instructions, and an ambience suited to helping people to move past the tensions and stresses they have brought with them into a productive mindset for what is to come. Quiet music can help with this. It will also give you time to prepare your own mind for facilitation.
If your facilities do not lend themselves to this, perhaps because of awkwardly located meeting rooms, troublesome internet connections, complex tools or inadequate resources, consider putting in 10 minutes preparation time for people, with clear guidance on how to ensure they can ‘arrive well’.
As the meeting organiser, we recommend that you equip yourself with your own ‘battle-box’ of what you might need in the meeting. For physical meetings, this might be sticky-notes, pens, masking tape etc. For virtual meetings it can be easy to set-up polls, or standard text to cut and paste, or links to other tools. This will enable you to prepare the ‘room’, even if things are missing when you get there.
Inspirometer users can access related support at: https://my.inspirometer.com/preview/meeting_clinic#10 . Here you will find guidance on room layout, developing positivity, and use of tools among other things.
Paradoxically, one of the most productive things you can plan for the start of a meeting is to ‘do nothing’ – just for a few minutes.
People often arrive at meetings with a lot of other things going on in their heads as they process all of the other demands upon them: problems; deadlines; emerging concerns etc. – in other words, they may be in the meeting physically (or virtually), but their minds and emotions are all over the place. Read More
By planning a minute or two of silence, you give time and space for them to become fully aware of what is going on with their attention, and to make an intention to put that to one side and to focus on the needs of the meeting and their colleagues within the meeting.
Initially, this may feel very alien to them, so it will need a few words of explanation, but by being clear on what you are expecting them to do, and making it a regular part of each of your meetings, you will find that your meetings start better and more coherently. For more information, see managing arrival.
Attendance issues can waste a lot of time in meetings for a variety of reasons: Not having the right input at the right time; waiting for people to turn up; over-extended breaks; repeating things for people who are late, or who weren’t paying full attention, or who didn’t prepare properly. All of these things sap the energy of the meeting and delay its progress.
Meeting efficiency depends on getting these things sorted out as (or even before) they occur. There are a number of things you can do to help ensure that your attendees arrive with the right attitudes and a supportive mindset, including: selecting people who really want/need to be there; speaking to people before the meeting to draw out their hopes and agree shared expectations; using the meetings as development opportunities for them; making your meetings active and interesting – right from the start.
Inspirometer users can access related support at: https://my.inspirometer.com/preview/meeting_clinic#2 which covers strategies such as pre-contracting participation, increasing involvement and participation, and selecting the right attendees.
Use the model below to develop a vision for how you want your meetings to be different going forward, and then research the resources above to develop a coherent plan for how you plan to bring about improvement.
For other resources which support ‘arrival’, please go to: https://help.inspirometer.com/tag/arrival/