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I thought I’d try a new tactic and keep you in suspense for a day (of course, it only works for my one daily reader.  There’s more? Please reveal yourself.)

Or it could be that I just ran out of time last night and didn’t want to finish the post.

Anyway, here’s the rest of the story.

The Meeting Canoe is about how to design a meeting, and it gets it’s name from the shape associated with the design concept, which looks like the top view of a canoe, when you’re looking down it – thin on one end, getting fatter in the middle, then getting thin again at the end.

1.  Welcome

The first thing you want to do in a meeting is welcome people.  Let them know that they are in a different space.  One of the most important aspects in architecture is how one enters the building – the entryway.  The same is true for a meeting, make it pleasant and welcoming.  Let people know you are glad they are there and make it a place they want to stay.

2.  Connect to each other and the task

Remind people what they have in common and why they are there.  When people are connected to the group, they are more likely to participate and be engaged in the conversation.

3.  Discover the way things are

Share information, have a discussion about the current state of whatever topic you are meeting about.  Allow all perspectives to be presented.

4.  Elicit people’s dreams

Get people into the future.  What would the situation look like if everything happened the way they’d like it to?  Get creative and invoke the arts, use skits, freewriting, stream of consciousness, headlines, or any method to get people thinking outside the norm.

5.  Decide who does what

This is where you create action plans, give assignments, and have a clear understanding of the next steps.

6.  Attend to the end

Review agreements.  Understand the path forward. End with a feeling of excitement, motivation, and possibility.  Appreciate everyone’s time and contribution.

Those are the 6 steps to the meeting canoe.  The canoe shape is derived from the size and depth of the conversation.  At the beginning, it is somewhat small talk with little emotion or feeling.  As the meeting progresses, discussion gets deeper, more involved, more passionate and detailed.  Then, in closing, we begin to converge on specifics, wrap up the loose ends, and feel complete or finished.  It’s a gradual curve, thus the canoe shape – a great memorable image for designing any meeting.

canoe

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3 Comments

  1. Thanks for finishing the post. I was wondering what a canoe had to do with anything. 🙂 Reminds me of a good Presidency Meeting. I’d be interested to know what “headlines” are as a meeting technique? I Googled it and got nowhere.

    You can tell who is coming to visit you if you add something like SiteMeter. I enjoy seeing who came to read my blog, where they live, and what time they spent.

    • Thanks Leslie. Keeping the canoe connection a mystery was intentional, to keep you in suspense. Glad to know it worked.

      Sorry I wasn’t clear on “headlines”. I was going off some cryptic notes of mine. In the context of getting people to visualize the future, it actually means to think of a headline in a newspaper that exists in the future you are envisioning. “SCRAPBOOK MOM MAKES MILLIONS!” or something like that. It helps you be creative and have fun.

      Thanks for the tool suggestion. I’ll look into it.

  2. If you would like to learn more about the meeting canoe visit http://meetingcanoe.pbworks.com/


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