Agenda Tips for Powerful Conversations

We’ve all heard the phrase “death by meeting.” All those hours together in a stuffy conference room. So much talking and not a lot of accomplishments. But there is a better way—a way to turn those meetings into powerful conversations. This structure gives people the opportunity to express themselves without negative consequence; it provides a forum where effective outcomes can flourish.

1. Start With Rave + Rant
In every meeting, I always start with a Rave and Rant. Just go around the room and ask what can you rave about today? And then ask what do you need to rant about today? Raves give people an opportunity to share a success story or recognize someone in the group for going above and beyond. Rants are more about giving people the chance to get things off their chest so they can be present in the meeting.

This shows the group that the meeting is an open conversation and that personal successes and challenges are fair game. Getting both things out on the table up front goes a long way towards making meetings more effective. Think about it; if your team is thinking about all those raves and rants they want to get off their mind throughout the whole meeting, are they really listening?

Rants and raves help the group deal with emotion in real-time. 

2. Share First Thoughts + First Feelings
Next, ask the attendees what their first thoughts and first feelings were when they woke up this morning. If at each meeting you hear the same first thought and first feelings, it’s probably a revolving issue on which attention should be focused. This structure gives you a way to identify those patterns.

First thoughts and first feelings assist the group in identifying patterns and clearing blockers.

3. Discuss Responsibility + Accountability
Why have a meeting if there’s not some form of responsibility or accountability that’s addressed? Without those key elements, it’s just a brainstorming session.

The meeting should be a forum for talking about what people were responsible for or accountable to and where they stand on that progress. It’s critical to create an environment in which they can give and receive feedback.

What’s the difference between responsibility and accountability?

      • Responsibility means I own the problem and I’ll take it on—I don’t need accountability to it. Instead, I’ll build a discipline or a structure around it to take care of it. For example, picking up a child from daycare, I don’t need somebody to remind me of that. I’m responsible for that as a parent.
      • Accountability means that I cannot do it on my own without support. If I need accountability to get myself to the gym, it might mean I need a workout partner, or perhaps a personal trainer. I need to mentally set an alarm or a trigger to help me.

Discussing responsibility and accountability allows the group to embrace ownership and offer support. 

4. Determine Strategy 
Now it’s time for the fun stuff. You went through those first three steps and now your strategy is not corrupted by emotion, drama, or a lack of responsibility or accountability. You removed all the emotional blockers and are ready to strategize.

Strategy is your blueprint. How are you going to tackle the tasks?

5. Make it Happen
This is your call to action. Summarize the meeting. Determine what everyone is working on. This is all about making sure the communication was clear. You don’t want what you spent all that time laying out to go into a black hole of nothingness. Follow-up and action plans help to keep the momentum toward your desired outcomes.

Your action plan helps keep the momentum going. 

These five steps can help you make the most of your conversations with your team.

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