The Art of Bookend Meetings

Last month I was introduced to the term “tailgate meeting.” This meeting doesn’t require beer nor do you have to convene in the parking lot. Instead a tailgate meeting is the post meeting reflection. As catchy as the tailgate meeting sounds, I like the visual of bookends better.

A meeting cannot stand-alone. There are those who prepare before the meeting and those that reflect on the meeting after the fact. Both of the components are important.

Preparing is essential, even if you aren’t leading the meeting. Anyone attending a meeting can prepare for a meeting using the Critical Thinking RED Model.

Recognize assumptions. You should review what the meeting is about and take a few moments to review an agenda when you can. Acknowledge what your assumptions are before walking into the meeting. Recognizing what assumptions you have walking into the meeting may make it easier to try and set them aside.

Evaluate arguments. Prior to the meeting, make a few notes about the points you want to bring up. Remember you use multiple resources to support your points. Preparing these notes before the meeting will allow you to best support your point but may also allow you to remain objective. Remain objective and don’t allow your emotions to form these points.

Draw conclusions. You should form an objective for the meeting.

The meeting is the meat of this equation. Incorporating the RED Model & critical thinking techniques into a meeting is a longer conversation to have but remember:

You may want to assign someone as the Devil’s Advocate

Ask the rights questions.

Avoid making rash decisions.

Emotions do affect critical thinking.

After the meeting you should take a few minutes to reflect. Again, you can use the RED Model to do so.

Recognize assumptions. Reflect on the meeting overall. Did the meeting remain objective? Do you stick to the purpose? Were people sharing opinions or was everyone able to rely on facts?

Evaluate arguments. Reflect on what was being said. Were you persuaded? Did the meeting suffer from groupthink? Did everyone agree with the boss out of “respect.” Did people get emotional? Who became emotional? Why do you think they became emotional?

Draw conclusions. Reflect on the decisions made or the game plan. How did you weigh the data? Did you hold all data to the same criteria? Did you bring in multiple resources?

The benefit of having a bookend meeting – that is a meeting designated with time to prepare and time to productively reflect – is that you get the most out of the meeting. Preparing for the meeting allows you to actively participate, understand what your personal objectives for attending are and allows you to think about how to meet them. Reflecting after the meeting gives you an idea of how effective the meeting was. This will better prepare you for future meetings but will also give you a sense of what additional legwork needs to be done before the next meeting and to accomplish your goals.

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Elizabeth Pauker-Silva

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