Snippets of Advice: holding interesting meetings
This is the first in what may end up being a long series of Snippets of Advice.
We get many emails coming into Transition Network from people asking advice about all sorts of things that are going on in their initiative, and we try to provide a considered response. We reckon that others may find some usefulness in these responses so I'm going to start blogging them.
Today's was about meetings - here's the email that came in from an initiative in South of the UK:
In our Transition group we currently run a meeting once a month where we talk about how we plan the group. This isn't exactly a great thing for bringing new people in, as people don't want to sit down and talk. So we thought of running some open meetings where we run an activity.
Do you do this? Could you provide us with some ideas on activities we could run at these open meetings?
Our Snippet of Advice
Thanks for making contact. In response to your question about meetings, this is a big subject and it won't be easy to do it justice in an email.
Transition groups in general are using really innovative meeting types - open space, world cafe, fishbowl to name a few. There's a lot of material on the internet covering each of these, including a tool here: www.transitionnetwork.org/tools/connecting/community-brainstorming-tools
Another tool might help: www.transitionnetwork.org/tools/starting/running-effective-meetings.
Even in conventional meetings, we encourage lots of non-conventional elements, such as:
- talking with someone you don't know at the start of the meeting answering eg two questions - eg "What brought you here", "what do you want to get out of the meeting"
- getting people into groups to discuss specific points, write them down on post-it notes and sticking them up on the wall so everyone can see them
- getting into pairs and doing an "active listening" enquiry into a specific point
The key point is to ensure that everyone in the room gets their voice heard, either in plenary or in smaller groups, and that there's a chance to meet new people and make connections, preferably in a facilitated way rather than in the informal gathering at the end (where people tend to gravitate towards their most familiar contacts).
I'd suggest putting something on the forum here: www.transitionnetwork.org/forums and perhaps having a little poke around them to see if anyone's added helpful material there.
Running meetings is also part of the "Transition LAUNCH" course: www.transitionnetwork.org/training/courses/launch.
Lastly, we use all sorts of these innovations at our annual conference - it's a great opportunity to see them in action and judge for yourself how it might work with your own group.
Hope that's useful. Ben.
If you find this useful, or you have another suggestion in response to this specific question, please add a comment.
Thanks. Ben (wearing his Initiative Support hat).