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Meetings that matter

How our meetings build relationship and get work done

Here’s a summary of our approach to participatory meetings. They apply to small or large meetings, short or long, and online, in person or hybrid meetings. As always, it is context dependant! 

Participatory meeting principles

  • People choose to come

  • Anyone can call a meeting

  • Meetings are fit for purpose

  • Find the simplest structure for good flow and getting things done

  • Rotate roles - building capacity

  • Be flexible - respond to changing contexts

  • Be prepared. It shows up in the quality of the meeting - for all participants

  • Take care of people

Participatory meeting practices

  • Even if we have an hour, we take the time to build our relationship a little more

  • Sit in circle - a leader in every chair

  • Use a talking piece. We wait until someone has finished before the next person begins speaking

  • Co-create the agenda - what matters most now?

  • Welcome and frame well - speaking the purpose

  • Check in and check out - bookending the meeting

  • Roles: Host, harvest (notes), guardian (time, energy)

  • Set meeting rhythms - what kind of meeting, when

  • Develop principles together

  • Only include items relevant for all or most

  • Make sure everyone has what they need (resources & breaks)
    Record what’s necessary and feed forward

Before the meeting

  • Clarity of purpose, outcomes, people, and appropriate flow / structure

  • Invite well - being clear about purpose, timing

  • Clear roles, who is doing what?

A framework

This applies to virtual, in person or hybrid meetings

  • Become present together - we take time to ground, presence, and transition from what came before. Many people say they are grateful for the chance to pause.

  • Acknowledge Country - We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, and live, and the deep care for country, community and culture that we are learning from. This is beyond lip service, it is an important part of our practice.

  • Framing - speaking the clear purpose of the meeting

  • Check in - hear all voices. What powerful question can you ask to bring people’s voices into the room and bring focus to the purpose of the meeting? Make it appropriate to the meeting.

  • If it’s a regular meeting, review next steps from the previous meeting - make them visible, speak in only what’s important.

  • Burning issues - We co-create the agenda and priorities - using the principles of open space - whatever is most important will be raised by one of us, and addressed. It works, every time.

    Be clear about what your item is…

  1. For information Share / announce - consider whether this needs to be brought here, and what could be shared using other communication channels. Invitation - spoken, a chance to practice warm invitation

  2. For conversation  Engage and seek feedback. Work together / co-create

  3. For decision  Clear proposal - be clear on your decision making process

  • Next steps - We are clear about next steps, each speaking in our own. Making commitments of who will do what by when

  • Check out - close the meeting well. A question to help people leave well, and to give feedback on how the meeting went for everyone. Can be brief, and a moment of acknowledgement and pause.

After the meeting

  • Make meeting notes visible to those who need to know

  • Everyone takes responsibility for their own next steps / actions

Get in touch if you want to know more, or learn how to transform your meeting practices.


The Circle Way - a deep practice for holding meetings of all types

The Art of Hosting Conversations that Matter (aka: the Art of Participatory Leadership)

Groundwork - practice for powerful collaboration

Going Horizontal - practices for shared leadership

Curious about working or learning with us?

We'd love to have a conversation.
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