Post Monthly Update Reflections

Monthly reflections constitute a significant part of any forum meeting. This part of the meeting is also known to drag on and take up a lot of time. In the spirit of maximizing time, Forums often ask me if they really need to have the group do a reflection after each person shares their monthly update and, instead, just let the Parking Lot Keeper record whatever they hear and move on.

In this post, I want to share why it’s valuable to do the reflection and the different types of reflection typically used.

If we rely on just the Parking Lot Keeper to capture the notes of what they heard, I can guarantee that they will miss some things while they are typing. But they will also miss the more nuanced things said during the monthly update.

Beyond just helping the Parking Lot Keeper, the reason we want everyone to participate in the reflection is because it keeps the group engaged. This is a facilitation trick. Imagine if there are ten people in the group, and each person delivers their monthly reflection for four minutes. If people do not talk between each presenter, then there will be people who don’t speak for 40 minutes at a minimum. In my experience as a facilitator of small groups, especially with business owners, if they are not participating actively in the meeting, their minds will wander. Having everyone engage in the monthly reflection keeps them participating throughout the whole section.

When it comes to reflecting on the monthly reflection, there are typically four options for people to choose from:

  1. “I heard them say…” and you pick something the presenter said using their exact words. 
  2. “I heard a theme of…” and share a theme you heard throughout several parts of the update.
  3. “Pass/Repeat.” which means you don’t have anything else to add that wasn’t already added.
  4. “I didn’t hear…” which means you mention something important said in a prior month but not brought up this month.

Each person should start by only sharing one item. They should speak in the third person, talking to the Parking Lot Keeper, not the presenter. They should use the presenter’s words as closely as possible instead of their interpretation of the words. The order should go in the opposite direction of the presenter. After everyone has gone, the Parking Lot Keeper should ask the group if any additional things were missed.

The goal of the reflection is not to capture every single thing possible but rather to go around once, capture the most important things, and then move on. There shouldn’t be any discussion, and it should move fast. This section is already a very long part of the meeting, so we want to keep it moving to keep the group on time and the energy up for the rest of the meeting.