Most staff meetings are information sharing or reporting sessions. As a general rule, they are one of the most misused types of meetings and are better used to clarify information already provided. Much of the reporting typically done in information sharing meetings should be done one-on-one or in writing.
Often these meetings are just for manager to check up on staff progress. If reporting is used to spot problems to be dealt with collaboratively by the group, it’s better to use subsequent problem-solving sessions and involve a facilitator.
Many meetings contain some reporting and some problem solving. This is fine as long as roles and procedures change as you switch from one type to another. Meetings get into trouble when transitions are sloppy. If you think a meeting may switch from reporting to problem solving, make sure a facilitator and recorder are available and everyone agrees to tackle the problem.
A Model for Information Sharing
A simple process for reporting information in meetings follows the metaphor of a medical doctor’s exam:
- Here’s the problem you’re facing.
- Under these conditions, here are your options.
- My recommendation is this.
Enliven your information sharing meetings by advising participants to prepare whatever they have to share using this model. If they’d like or need to share more detailed information to bring participants up to speed, ask them to share it prior to the meeting via email or hard copy early enough to give participants a chance to review it. Or, to do it in under a minute using metaphors, pictures, e.g. Pecha Kucha style, etc. Then facilitate their sharing following this model to keep it short and succinct. This will help cut down on information overload and demonstrate respect for other team members’ time and energy.
How will you employ the above model to tighten up your own staff meetings or help those burdened by the process? I invite you to share your questions, feedback, or experience on this topic in the Comments Area.
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