Are You Running Your Meetings Like Workshops?

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A good meeting facilitator manages a meeting effectively so that the agenda would be covered as planned and the purpose of the meeting is met.

When the facilitator runs a meeting like a workshop, she is bound to run out of time and fail to achieve the desired outcome. There are differences between the two.

Pre-work vs off the cuff. A good meeting facilitator distributes the agenda ahead with specific pre-work and expectations clearly laid out. When meeting participants come prepared, questions would be addressed adequately, avoiding delays in making decisions. On the contrary, pre-work might not be necessary for a workshop. It is acceptable for participants to share their knowledge off the cuff in a workshop setting.

High level vs in depth discussion. A meeting addresses one or multiple topics at a macro level whereas a workshop aims to dive deep into a subject. As a result, meetings are relatively shorter than workshops. In a workshop, more time is allocated for detailed participative discussions. When leading a meeting, the facilitator needs to pay attention and steer the conversation appropriately. Otherwise, there won’t be sufficient time for all the agenda items.

Information sharing vs doing the work. Meetings are for information sharing and reporting, with a goal to reach alignment and move things forward. Participants are not supposed to use the group’s meeting time to do assigned work. Workshops, on the other hand, are forums for brainstorming, gathering input, and collaborating. In a workshop, participants work together to develop a product, for instance.

Bad meetings are time wasters. They get people feeling frustrated. To be a good meeting facilitator, beware of the differences. They have an impact on the meeting outcomes.

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