Parking Lot Full of Ideas

So conducting large meetings is not often easy. 


People have their own concepts as to where they’d like the discussion to go.


Yes, agendas help keep the meeting focused. 


And a good facilitator enforces meeting discipline. 


Some people think that any deviation from the agenda is like taken a sudden left turn or driving off the cliff. 


But you don’t want to throw away the baby with the bath water. 


It’s important to jot down good ideas or follow up questions that come out in the discussion even when they are not immediately relevant. 


That’s where the “Parking Lot” comes into play. 


A flip chart or whiteboard to capture the important thoughts for follow up afterwards. 


While parking lots are needed to take certain things off the table immediately in order to focus on accomplishing the meeting’s objectives, they are not junk yards for people’s input. 


Instead, they are a place to park the stray thoughts and then to actively follow up on these after. 


No question is a dumb one, and no idea isn’t worth considering. 


Parking lots can be full of these and they should be parked and then taken for a spin around the neighborhood.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Calling An ELMO

So this is an interesting meeting facilitation technique. 


Sometimes people get carried away in meetings either as broken records, spinning wheels, naysayers, or ever with verbal attacks.


In these case, either the facilitator or any of the other participants, can have permission to “call an ELMO.”


What that stands for is:


Enough,

Let’s

Move 

On


When someone at the meeting calls an ELMO the meeting is redirected and focused back to the agenda and meeting objectives.


There are also times, you need a “parking lot” for good ideas that are a little offtrack or for sidebars that you want to come back to later.


At other times, you just need to say, “Let’s take it offline.”


Focused meetings should generate ideas (brainstorm), exchange points of view, surface problems, discuss issues, and make decisions. 


A good meeting leaves people feeling energized, valued, informed, and productive. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)