Late this summer we held a Customer Advisory Council. To get caught up on the backstory, start here. After everyone gathered together, you are still faced with the prospect of being stuck in a room all day. This can test the patience of any person, no matter how enthralling the speakers or topics.
With the help of Todd Olson, who was consulting our company at the time, we adopted two facilitation techniques. This kept the pacing of the day fresh and forward.
The Agile Agenda
Instead of locking ourselves into a rigid agenda, we placed all of the 2-day topics on stickies, and stuck ’em on the wall. There was method-to-the-madness, meaning they were laid out according to the desired flow. However, we kicked the day off by sharing the topics and the process: We would move them to “In-Progress” and “Done” as the topics were covered, and topics could be re-ordered based upon direction of the group. This put control of the day back to the attendees. It got us one step closer to ensuring they got value from showing up.
The Time Timer
Simple product. Excellent results. Every topic, exercise, or conversation was time-bound with this little guy. We never strayed too far down any tangent. If the convo was juicy, we extended a few minutes, or re-shuffled the agenda entirely to allow the meaty topics more time.
Both of these served our group very well. I’d recommend both for any meeting that’s going to take longer than an hour.