Great granddaughter Scarlett, age three, invited me to go for a walk into the woods. She was clear on what she was inviting me to. “Grandma, we need a basket to collect things. We need a flashlight to find our way. And we have a rule. The rule that daddy says is ‘if it moves, don’t pick it up!’.” Knowing Scarlett and her curiosity, I could understand why daddy made that simple rule to keep her safe. I appreciated Scarlett’s clarity of what I was being invited to participate in. I could easily accept and enjoy the walk. Her invitation let me make an informed choice.
When someone asks me to meet with them, even for an online meeting or a cup of coffee, I ask them to clarify their intention for the meeting. I ask them to let me know the agenda that they have for meeting with me. I like to make an informed decision about whether that particular intention is where I want to engage my energy. It is a simple formula that I use to decide if I can easily accept. I can then enjoy the meeting, fully participating, because I made an informed choice to be there. This is so even if the subject matter is tough. It’s so if the subject matter is joyful. The difference for me is knowing what I am being invited into.
Likewise, I appreciate sufficient information in the invitation about what the meeting is when I am asked to attend a meeting in an organization. I want to be able to make an informed choice of whether I want to engage in the meeting. If the meeting is to be highly participatory, expecting me to fully participate and engage, I want to know what I am engaging my energy in…and what will be done with my inputs to the process.
I like attending meetings that are meaningful for me, in which I can use my imagination and creativity, and make a meaningful contribution. I don’t like wasting my energy attending something from which I cannot learn and cannot contribute to. In this world of so many demands on time and energy, I want to make good informed choices for myself.
I assume that people, like me, want participatory meetings to be planned well. Planning that elicits clarity on what people are actually being invited to. I assume that since I appreciate making an informed choice, others do too. If you create and carry out participatory meetings in your organization, this is a great planning tip for you! Consider what you need to have clarity about in planning for the meeting and what needs to be included in the invitation so that your participants can make an informed choice to be there. Those that you invite will appreciate having a clear invitation that gives them the information they need to make an informed choice to attend. You will have already begun to lay the groundwork for participation and engagement in the meeting before they have even arrived. And, as a bonus, the results of your meeting will exceed your expectations!
Ready to Learn More about Planning for Participatory Meetings?
Are you curious about what to include in an effective meeting invitation? Or are you interested in learning more about effective planning meetings? Join Rachel Bolton and me for Planning for Participatory Meetings. This half-day workshop explores the critical elements to attend to in your meeting preparations. With our planning process, you can experience:
- richer participation through creating an invitational and life nurturing setting
- greater idea generation by considering the best mix of people to be invited
- deeper engagement by paying attention to adult learning needs
- more focused results by exploring what’s led up to the meeting and what the anticipated outcomes are to ensure the right theme and right meeting method are chosen
Our simple planning process is easily duplicable and suitable for use with any participatory meeting method including Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry, World Cafe, and Whole Person Process Facilitation.