Tools for Effective Meetings

Sometimes meetings are just to feel things out

and can stay loose and informal,

and sometimes you need to get things done.

How to facilitate freethinkers to rally as a group?



Sit in a circle – more egalitarian shape, where everyone has an equal place.

Go around – be short and concise.

  • Name
  • Everyone repeats name
  • Share something you did today

Facilitating is like directing traffic- feel the group be flexible and improvise.



Think & Listen exercise:

Ask people to pair up.

Decide who speaks first.

Agree on time: between 2-5 minutes each

Make sure everyone agrees that everything said is absolutely confidential.

Choose a question: ie. what actions have you done lately, what do you hope this meeting will achieve, etc..

Tips for speaker: speak freely for yourself, when it is my turn – do what I like, don´t try to impress, be witty, be convincing. Speaking from “the self “ “I” believe, suggest not in the name of “people” and what you think “they” want.

Tips for listener: be attentive, give approval, don´t interrupt, don´t judge – just notice, don´t question or give your opinion, don´t think of what you will say when it is your turn, don´t give a reason, don´t justify the other


The point of Think & Listen is to hear yourself thinking out loud.



How is everyone feeling?

Do we want a break, eat, drink, massage, dance for 5 minutes?

Thumbs up or down or middle as voting tool. If thumb-down, a “no”, check with the person to find out why s/he is against it.



  • Set before the meeting begins, from previous meeting and communications (emails, texts, phone).
  • All agree on the agenda so no one will feel his point is left out.
  • Write-up agreed open and visible on board or paper for all to see. Maybe as a mind-map…
  • ASIGN the TIME each point will receive. Negotiate this, if too much time is needed, points must be dropped.
  • What is not on the map will NOT be addressed.
  • Be sure the schedule of timing is realistic.
  • To be contemplated: “proposals” ideas, suggestions, all things we won´t address today.
  • Review any explicit rules. ie. No one speaks twice in a debate until everyone has spoken once.



– Go around what we have gained, learned, what was good in this meeting.

– What points need to be addressed in next meeting.

– Set a date.

– Finishing breath, poem, song, meditation, food.

– Leave time for social interaction at end.


Tips for facilitator:

Create ambience – nice, clean, uncluttered space for free thinking and movement. Good smell.

Delegate roles – see below for more detail on the facilitator, secretary, time keeper, etc.

Clear Beginning and End of Meeting, of exercises, of Agenda.

Clear, simple, short instructions for each transition.

Agenda open and visible to all.

Establish priority and times before meeting starts.

Importance of good listening.

Time to think with Think & Listen.

Opportunity for everyone to speak.

Uninterrupted process, don´t allow tyranny of one speaker.

Enjoy, laugh and share.


A few Key Roles

1) Facilitator

  • given to one or two persons assigned ahead of time so they can prepare.
  • decide in group whether always the same or different each time. Keep in mind: different people have different roles in different groups. Maybe someone is better suited for a role in this group  and not in another.
  • a facilitator is a good listener and not afraid to interrupt if needed, flexible but firm, shows no favoritism, no judgement, just noticing and managing the group.

2) Secretary

  • taking notes
  • keeping track
  • noting agreed decisions
  • assigning tasks to people
  • next steps to accomplish
  • next meeting date!

3) Time-keeper – person with a watch to remind us to stay within decided time limits.

4) If your working with the principles of Transformative Activism, you could designate a person to hold the space for each of these considerations:

  • Imagination – this could be the role for a person who is comfortable with being creative. This person would be responsible for directing the artistic and aesthetic aspects.
  • Inclusion – this could be the role for someone who is a protector/defender of freedom of speech. This person would be making sure that all interested people can participate.
  • Participation – this could be the role for an idealist who can see beyond the boundaries. This person would come up with ideas on how to include people representing all sides of an issue.
  • Sustainability – a role for a parent or a person who takes care of other living beings. This person can visualize the repercussions, maintenance and long-term effects of actions.

Remember that any of these key roles can go changing and rotating to different people in the group according to need and capability.

Also if the person is not experienced enough in this role, it is good form to provide them with a mentor, who can answer all their questions without judgment.

The group is more effective when it is working together for a common purpose. Keeping that purpose as priority helps keep the egos at bay.

Everyone has a role to play in a group.

Experience Spaces 

Different times : be aware of which type of space we´re in at which time so we can organize accordingly.

  • Action : who is doing what, what materials are needed and who will take care of them, etc.
  • Emotions : is this for pairing, group or professional sharing? Leave time for expression but know when to channel away.
  • Creative-Crazy : if something amazing is happening, letting it happen. If not, moving on. Not being polite, being of service to group mission.
  • Celebration of what we´ve achieved! who is doing what, what materials are needed and who will take care of them, etc. Any one want to share their talents to celebrate? Sing, dj, play music, cook….