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Element #6: Set expectations for meeting participants

When your meeting participants know what to expect during a meeting, you are more likely to accomplish your meeting purpose, engage with the participants and host an effective meeting. A common challenge for coalition meetings is the tendency to assume that everyone knows what to expect. As the person planning the meeting, you have spent several hours (maybe even days) considering the purpose, the people, the agenda and the logistics. Alternatively, most of your coalition members and meeting participants have probably skimmed the agenda and noticed a place on their calendar for the meeting. Join me this week as I provide three recommendations on when to set expectations for meeting participants.

Before the meeting

One way to set expectations is to share the agenda a week before the meeting. This was highlighted in our last blog series on accountability. In addition, you can let people know what they need to bring to the meeting, questions you want to discuss and expectations on speaking, presenting and how to engage. When you decide the type of meeting you want to have, this is a great opportunity to consider the expectations that you need to set with participants prior to the meeting. For instance, I remember participating in my first zoom webinar and wondering if people could see my face or if the camera was on without me knowing it. Thankfully, someone put a question in the chat to clarify how the webinar was working and that no one could see our video.

During the meeting

As a long-time meeting facilitator, I have practiced setting “ground rules,” or my current favorite term, “guiding principles,” for meetings. Depending upon the type of meeting, you can ask for feedback from participants on developing these or you can have a draft to share with the group at the beginning. Even if you do not have a formal list of guiding principles, I highly recommend letting participants know what to expect and how to engage when you begin the meeting. For instance, one of the expectations that I currently set during video chat meetings is that when someone is presenting something and sharing their screen, folks can be off video. However, I strongly encourage them to show their video again when the presenter has stopped sharing the screen and we are discussing the topic further.

After the meeting

One of the ways we often forget to set expectations is after the meeting. Even though the meeting is over, if we want people to stay engaged and for the meeting follow-up to be effective, we must set expectations for action items and next steps. When we send this information quickly (ideally within a week), we continue the momentum and progress from the meeting that inspires engagement and encourages participation in future meetings. This also helps with supporting accountability. Check out my Accountability Keys #8 and #9 for specific guidance on follow-up.

Which of these three areas do you want to enhance in setting expectations for your next meeting?

If you would like to learn more skills and engage with others who are also on a coalition, partnership or team building journey, consider joining my wait list for Coalition Catalyst Spring 2022. You will be the first to receive the dates and information for my Spring class!

Also, check out my latest resource on conducting effective coalition meetings, Effective Meeting Checklist!

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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