Videos

Agendas with end times are efficient

In a meeting room about to implement an agenda, Craig explains how useful it is to state an ending time.

Thanks for holding the camera, Wanda!

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody!

Hey it’s Craig Freshley about to facilitate a meeting in this room and today I want to talk about the importance of an agenda having an ending time. Come this way.

A lot of groups — especially government councils and commissions — tend to have meeting agendas without an ending time because there is an ethic that we want to give everybody a chance to say everything that they need to say. We want to give all the time that’s required for a particular agenda item.

And I get that, but a downside of not having an end time to an agenda is that the facilitator — the leader of the meeting — has no leverage. There is nothing that I can do or say as the facilitator to speed things along, to call people out when comments are being repeated; to take a hard line about things that are off-topic.

When an agenda has an end time, at various points through the agenda I can say, “look we’ve only got 45 minutes. Look I understand that what you’re saying is important but we’ve only got 20 minutes left in this meeting and I want to hear from some others.” As we get close to the end time I can be more and more pushy.

And what I find is that it actually doesn’t have the result of limiting comments. It has the result of making comments more efficient, and honestly that’s what we want in a meeting. If you want your meetings to be productive and efficient, wherever possible state an end time and stick to it.

I hope this helps your group make good decisions. Thanks for listening everybody.

Six Simple Ground Rules for a Civil Conversation

In this two-minute video, Craig tells a live audience about the six ground rules that we use at Make Shift Coffee House: 1) Speak from your experience, 2) Listen to understand, 3) Everyone gets a turn, 4) No one criticizes, 5) Neutral facilitation, and 6) Share with others. These rules were designed to help us navigate challenging conversations about strongly held political opinions, but they can also help us keep things civil in families, teams, organizations, and communities. Learn more about Make Shift Coffee House guidelines here.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video (speaking to a live audience):

In a moment here I’m going to ask one of you to put up your hands; I’m going to ask for a volunteer to tell us your answer to this question: “What’s right and/or wrong about how we handle guns in America?” And I might ask you a follow-up question. I might ask you, like I did with these folks, “Why do you believe what you believe? Where does that come from?”

As we have our conversation here, I want to keep in mind some of these typical ground rules that we have at these Make Shift Coffee House conversations:

  • We’re mostly about listening. As I said in the beginning, we’re not here to change each other’s minds on these topics. We’re here to understand the topics and understand each other.
  • I’m asking you to speak from your personal experience. I want to know not just the theory, the law, or even the science. I want to know why you believe what you believe.
  • We’re going to try to give everybody a turn. I’m going to ask that you raise hands.
  • No one criticizes. We are not here to blame, criticize, shame, or offend anybody else. That’s just not the purpose of this. The purpose of this is to understand each other.
  • I’m being a neutral facilitator tonight.
  • And the last one there says “Share with others.” And my hope here is that — after the conversation tonight — tomorrow, next week, next month, you will share with others what you learned here about how people think about guns but also the ways in which we had the conversation. I am imagining that we’re going to have a very civil conversation tonight. We’re already off to a great start. Watch how that happens and try to model and replicate these techniques in your conversations in your questions tomorrow, next week, next month. Share with others.

It’s the planning, not the plan

In this fireside video from a lodge on a lake in Maine, Craig talks about the value of having a plan vs. making a plan.

If you are a planning skeptic, check this one out.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody. Hey it’s Craig Freshley.

I’m about to start a meeting in this awesome room. I’m at the Kennedy Learning Center on the shores of Damariscotta Lake, right out those windows. We’re going to sit around this table and were going to make a plan.

Now a lot of people don’t like plans. A lot of people say that plans are useless. In fact, Dwight Eisenhower said, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” And I get that.

Sometimes — actually most of the time — after you make a plan, circumstances change and the whole plan is no longer valid. But the process of planning is indispensable even if you don’t stick to the plan. Having gone through the effort to think through what is it that we want to achieve — what are the steps, in what order, who’s responsible for what, how much money is each step going to cost — having thought through those plans helps us later even when we have to go off the plan. Even when circumstances change; because we went through the planning process we much better know how to adapt.

So even if you think plans are obsolete I hope you agree with me that the effort of planning is indispensable.

Thanks for listening everybody.

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