One of the most requested changes to the traditional forum meeting structure is to add more discussion time. Some people feel the traditional agenda is too rigid and doesn’t have space for organic conversations to happen.
This feedback is completely justifiable. So, I want to give you an alternative agenda that allows for more discussion during the meetings. However, before I give you the agenda, let me give you a few warnings as to why this type of agenda can be very dangerous.
- Extroverts Take Over – Without proper facilitation and time management, an open forum is almost always dominated by the extroverts in the room. Or in many dynamics, it’s also a gender situation where the men dominate with their voice over the women in the room.
- Run Out Of Time – Whenever there is an open conversation, it almost always ends up running longer than it was supposed to. Someone will say, “Oh, just one more question.” Every time a section runs over, something else in the meeting will have to be let go or someone else will have less time for their turn. The group will most likely not finish on time.
- Interest Rabbit Holes – During the open discussion time, two or three members of the group might get going on a topic that is completely unrelated to everyone else in the group. If they are allowed to carry on without checks and balances, they will go deep into the topic, and the rest of the group will check out because the conversation is too specific and not relatable to them.
Now that you are aware of the dangers of having more discussion time during a forum meeting, let me give you a possible 3-hour agenda (download here) that allows for additional discussion time but also creates some guardrails so the meeting doesn’t go off the chain.
OPENING – 5 mins
- One Word “Current State”
- Warm-up Question
MONTHLY REFLECTION – 90 mins
- Reflection Sharing (3 mins each)
- Reflection Q&A (6 mins each)
- Parking Lot Readout – (2 mins each)
SHOUTOUTS – 3 mins
GOALS/AIMS – 30 mins
- Done / Not Done (2 min each)
- Top Monthly Goals (2 mins each)
BREAK – 10 mins
NEEDS – 30 mins
- Individual Ask / Reflection (4 mins each)
LEADS – 5 mins
HOUSEKEEPING – 5 mins
FINAL THOUGHTS / CLOSE – 5 mins
A few things to note about this agenda.
- The opening segment is cut in half to move us more quickly into “the meat” of the meeting.
- The Monthly reflection now has a Q&A section that allows for more back and forth.
- The Goals/AIMS section time is extended for more discussion on the goals.
- The Needs section is extended to allow each person to get feedback from the group.
- There is no traditional Deep Dive. This is by far the biggest loss to having this type of agenda. No one will go deep on one issue and uncover blindspots.
While this agenda does allow for a lot more discussion for everyone in the group, you still have to keep a close eye on the clock as it’s a tight schedule and things will get messed up if you let sections run long.
Good luck, and if you do try this out, report back to me and let me know how it went.