The Glossary of Meeting Terms describes terminology and acronyms related to meetings and all the activities we do in those meetings. We've gathered this information from far and wide, so enjoy! And hey — if you have corrections or additions, please don't hesitate to contact us!
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A meeting cadence is a pattern of regular team meetings. Short, frequent meetings increase a team's work momentum. Groups that provide oversight, such as boards and committees, hold longer meetings less frequently.
The CAPPED Decision Framework is a set of stages and facilitative questions to help groups make decisions together, no matter what the scale, urgency, and complexity. Developed by Ben Crothers, this framework uses logic and progressive alignment to structure a discussion and reach a decision and alignment stage by stage, rather than trying to align on a decision right at the end.Steps in the CAPPED Decision Making Framework
Causal Layered Analysis (abbreviated as CLA) is a group sense-making technique used to explore the underlying causes and worldviews contributing to a situation. Working together, groups made up of people representing different perspectives respond to a central question with:Litany: how they "feel" about it Causes: what's creating the situation Worldview: the perspectives shaping it Myths: the underlying stories feed it
The results of a CLA exercise are often shown as an iceberg,...read more
The chair (also chairperson, chairwoman or chairman) is the highest elected officer of an organized group such as a board, a committee, or a deliberative assembly. In formal meetings, the chair is responsible for driving the meeting content. The chair leads preparation of the meeting agenda, opens the meeting, and works to keep the conversation focused, engaging, and balanced. The chair is also responsible for managing the formal business of the meeting, such as recognizing speakers and...read more
Challenging Assumptions is a sense-making technique designed to break apart a statement and discover where assumptions may be limiting your options. There are several ways of leading a group through an exercise designed to challenge assumptions.
In one approach, groups start by writing out the stated goal or problem, then underlining every word that implies an underlying assumption. For example:
We need to lay off 20 people this quarter.
Then, for every underlined word or...read more
The Chatham House Rule is used in meetings where participants need a way to openly share information, but don't want to be identified as the source of that information in any meeting records or articles written afterward. The rule is invoked regularly in meetings dealing with sensitive topics. It reads:
When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the...read more
A check-in is a technique used at the beginning of a meeting to give everyone an opportunity to speak, and during meeting transitions to survey the group's current status. The simplest check-in is simply to ask each person how they are. There are many more specific check-in techniques, each developed for a specific meeting context.
All check-ins work to:Increase participation: everyone starts by participating right up front, making it impossible to multi-task on other work... read more
Facilitators and meeting leaders use a meeting checkpoint to keep the group focused and on topic. To conduct a checkpoint at the end of an agenda item, the facilitator will quickly recap what the group just accomplished, where they are in the agenda, and what they will do next. Checkpoints increase engagement by providing a sense of incremental accomplishment and curtailing side discussions as the group focuses on completing the planned agenda.
Circles and Soup is an exercise teams use to the identify the parts of their work they can control directly, the factors they can influence, and those which are outside of their control. Once these factors are sorted, the team can then make better decisions about how to prioritize their efforts.
The technique, introduced by Diana Larsen and frequently used in action review meetings, works by drawing three large concentric circles on a whiteboard. The team then writes down the various...read more
Circles of Influence
See: Circles and Soup
A Clarifying Question is a question asked about something that is unclear or hard to understand. People ask clarifying questions to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, rather than as a way to probe, challenge, or open up new avenues of discussion.
Example clarifying questions include:When do you need an answer? What format would you like that in? How are you defining moderate risk? Does that have an 80% chance of happening, for example? I'm not sure what you mean by "... read more
Code of Conduct (for a Meeting)
See: Ground Rules
Cognitive Biases are mental shortcuts we each make to help us make decisions in the face of ambiguity, overwhelming options, and limited time. Researchers believe cognitive biases have evolved so we can make mostly-correct decisions quickly, allowing us to survive, grow, and adapt to the most common challenges everyone encounters. These biases, though, often lead people in the complex modern world to jump to incorrect conclusions. Effective meeting designs will work to combat cognitive...read more
Collaboration is a working practice whereby individuals work together to a common purpose to achieve a mutual goal or business benefit. Team meetings can be designed to encourage collaboration by providing opportunities for everyone to contribute to a shared result during the meeting. Poorly executed meetings, on the other hand, inhibit collaboration by emphasizing power dynamics, stifling discussion, and boring people.
A committee consists of a named subgroup of people within an organization who come together to fill a predetermined function. A committee's work is described in its charter and is often conducted in a series of meetings. A committee may operate as a governing body, overseeing an organizational function for a prolonged period of time, or as a project team that gets disbanded once the original goal is accomplished. Depending on their function, committee meetings may work like team meetings,...read more
An organization's communication architecture determines the method and frequency by which information, attention, and intent flows between people, teams, and systems in the organization.
Common elements of an organization's communication architecture include:Email, shared calendars, and document storage Meetings Record keeping and collaboration systems Casual conversations between co-workers Signage, posters, and announcements Signals and safety alert systems Broadcasts,... read more
A Community of Practice Meeting is used by people with a shared interest in a topic for networking, learning, and mutual support.
You can find an introduction to Team Cadence Meetings in Chapter 32 of our book, Where the Action Is. You may also want to visit the Learn More link, below, for resources to help you plan, run, and troubleshoot the specific meetings your team needs.Examples Monthly Safety Committee... read more
In a complex decision-making situation, there is no obviously correct choice. Instead, there are multiple answers that warrant further experimentation before committing to a single approach.
Teams may use a compromise approach to making a decision when they can't agree on a single answer. The facilitator helps the team identify all points that they agree on to form the basis of the decision. Then, focusing only on the specific areas of disagreement, the team seeks an alternate approach, or compromise, that everyone can live with.
Concept mapping is a technique for graphically organizing and representing knowledge. The maps include concepts, usually enclosed in circles or boxes, and relationships between the concepts indicated by a connecting line. Concept maps can be created collaboratively by a group during a meeting, a process more commonly known as Mind Mapping. Concept maps can also be used as a visually interesting way to present a meeting or workshop agenda. Finally, concept maps are often presented during...read more
A conference call is an audio call in which multiple participants all join the same call at the same time. Most commonly, people join conference calls by dialing a shared conference number on their phones. In recent years, the term conference call has also been used to describe group calls held by computer using software like Skype, UberConference, and other computer-based audio technologies. A conference call that includes real-time video of participants is called a video conference, and...read more
A conference room is a dedicated space for events such as business conference calls and meetings.
Connectivity describes the ability of individuals to connect to the Internet using computers and mobile devices. Connectivity problems are more noticeable and have a greater negative impact on online meetings than on most other forms of Internet use. Connectivity issues are especially noticeable when using computer audio or video conferencing.
Consensus is a decision-making approach that seeks to secure the support of the whole group for the decision at hand. Many people believe that consensus is the same thing as unanimous agreement, but this is not necessarily the case. Unanimity is when everyone agrees. Consensus is when no one disagrees.
A specific definition of consensus may be spelled out in a team's ground rules or operating agreements. When the definition isn't clear in advance, facilitators recommend clarifying...read more
A consent agenda is a technique for addressing multiple topics in a single agenda item, such as committee reports, meeting minutes, and other items that don't require discussion. Boards and committees use a consent agenda to quickly manage all the items they are legally required to address during the meeting, but which should not take up any of the board's precious meeting time. Groups that use a consent agenda expect participants to have reviewed the items on the consent agenda prior to the...read more
Conflict is when there is some form of friction, disagreement, or discord within a group. Conflict can arise when people perceive opposition to their ideas, values, or opinions. Many meetings are designed to encourage constructive conflict, where participants talk openly and respectfully about these disagreements in a mutual attempt to understand each other's perspectives and create the best possible solution. Meeting facilitators are trained to recognize the difference between constructive...read more
A consulting decision-making meeting involves a group that provides information and advice to one or more designated decision makers. The appointed decision maker(s) then take responsibility for making the final decision. There are several ways to run a meeting that consults to the decision maker. In some cases, the group will meet to discuss the decision separately and then provide a written report to the decision maker. In other cases, the group discusses the decision in the decision maker...read more
The classic structure for group decision-making meetings includes these phases: Diverge -> Emerge - > Converge.
Convergent thinking is the opposite of divergent thinking. Instead of creating a lot of new ideas, convergent thinking works to focus in on the "right" idea. When a group makes a decision and outlines next steps, they are converging around a single idea.
See: Parking Lot
Creative Problem Solving (CPS) is a method that attempts to approach a problem or a challenge in an innovative way. The process helps redefine problems and opportunities to come up with new responses and solutions.
There are many variations on the basic Creative Problem Solving process, some of which work nicely in group meetings. The simplest form of the process includes these steps:Clarify (the objectives, the problem, the facts, the opportunity) Generate Ideas (come up with... read more
A criteria matrix is a valuable decision-making tool that is used to assess and rank a list of options based on specific criteria. For example, the simplest criteria matrix will compare the Pros and Cons of each option.
More involved decisions benefit from establishing criteria or factors for evaluating each option in advance, such as cost, time to implement, expected impact, alignment with core values, etc. Each alternative is then rated on each criterion and compared to the others...read more
Cultural differences impact how people from different countries, socio-economic groups, and other distinct societal systems interact in meetings. For example, some cultures prize direct discussions and vigorous debate while others value ritual, formality, and polite discourse. People from different cultures may have different expectations about work deadlines and communication patterns. When leading a meeting with participants from different cultures, effective leaders make plans that take...read more