- Questions before the meeting: Interview people about their own hopes and aspirations for the meeting, and the potential they see in it. In doing so, you elevate their perspective of power and potential of the meeting to benefit the things they value and engage them in its success. You do not have to do anything about these things from the outset, merely to understand where people are coming from and to ignite their interest.
- Questions designed into the meeting: Reflect on the common elements on the answers you have from your interviews, and the possibilities of harnessing that to reconcile their differences. Work through what will need to happen in the meetings to achieve this, and develop these into a series of questions for the meeting to answer collectively. These questions can form the structure for the agenda, or the basis of various debates and exercises.
- Questions of preparation: Is there useful research or self-reflection that people can do in preparing themselves to play an active part in the meeting. Can these be posed as questions to participants before the meeting so that they arrive better prepared for playing a full and constructive part in the meeting process.
- Questions to guide the meeting: A well constructed meeting can sometimes arrive at a conclusion which is sufficiently right with virtually no intervention from the leader, However, if it does need a nudge away from the odd wrong conclusion or cul-de-sac, this can usually be achieved better by a question than a statement. For instance ‘We need to set up a Gantt chart’ could be replaced with ‘How should we make sure everything comes together at the right time?’ The result may be the same, but the ownership could be different. Use the inputs that occur to you as statements to identify the most productive question to generate that answer (or perhaps something better).
- Questions to deflect questions: It is natural for a group to defer to its leader, and so you will inevitably get questions which expect an input from you. Where providing that input risks a shift of perceived ownership, it may be better to throw the question back out into the group. Perhaps with a response like: ‘Before I answer that I would like to hear other people’s input. What does anybody else think?’. And then add in follow up questions as required to develop the quality of the answer.
- Questions to conclude the meeting: There is always a danger that in concluding the meeting, summarising the outcomes subtly shifts the perception of ownership back to the leader. This can be avoided by asking other people to summarise different aspects of the meeting. Perhaps a final question can be: ‘So are we all clear on what needs to happen next?’ Another good question is ‘Would we each be willing o bet £500 of our own money in the success of this project?’ with a supplementary question of ‘So what do we need to change to give us that confidence?’ if the answer is not positive.
Please subscribe to access clinic content
Subscription to the Inspirometer Information Service is free of charge and grants you instant access to a wealth of meeting effectiveness resources and guidance. It also provides you with regular updates direct to your mailbox at a frequency of your choosing.
I am happy to consent to the Inspirometer cookies and Terms and Conditions
■ We will not use your information for any other purpose than to keep you informed of developments in meeting effectiveness and the Inspirometer system, and we will not share your information with others.
■ You are able to unsubscribe from this service at any time. Each email you receive from us will contain a link where you can reset your preferences for all future emails, or unsubscribe for the service entirely.
■ We will contact you on a minimum of a quarterly basis to ensure that our service is continuing to meet your needs, to give you a general update on key developments in our service, and to provide you with the option to change your contact preferences
■ We will hold your data on file to enable your access to the Information Service until such time as you unsubscribe from the service
■ All information provided by us is provided in good faith. All information submitted by you is to be provided in good faith.
■ In compliance with the GDPR 2018, you acknowledge that clicking the subscribe button grants us your consent to hold the data you have provided, and to contact you using that data, in the manner described above.