One of my passions is better meetings. Meetings can be productive, energizing, creative and fun. Or they can suck the life out of you faster than a brief stay in vacuum – without a space suit.
I stumbled upon a very simple and effective format that I’ve been using for shorter meetings with fewer people. Say 1-2 hours and up to 6 -8 people.
At the start of the meeting everybody who has a topic writes it on a piece of paper, announces it briefly, and places that piece of paper on the table. When no more topics come up, dialogue begins. We look at the potential topics, and decide where to start. People can break into groups or not as they choose, most of the time we tackle all of the topics together. Once a topic has been dealt with, you can put that piece of paper aside.
The good thing about this format is that it takes almost no time to do the agenda planning, and the agenda is visible to everyone, as is the progress since the number of outstanding items on the table keeps shrinking.
I’m not sure why, but this works much better than writing down the agenda on a piece of paper. I should probably note that I use this format with people who are already used to open space meetings – that may be part of the reason why it works for us. Try it!