Masterful Communication: Get Past Personality to Productivity

I spent a powerful three hours yesterday with the board members of the National Junior Hereford Association. The workshop was How to Communicate Like a Master and it became a session on how the board can effectively make decisions as a group of "big personality" leaders. (The goal of the entire two-day meeting for the board was to plan two big events coming up this summer.) Here are a few of the "group think" guidelines we developed...

  • Have a pre-defined discussion leader. This does not have to be the person with the most authority in the room. It actually works better many times for it not to be.

  • If you find you need more information to make decisions in the room, find it now if you can, assign who will track it down if you can't track it down now or don't make the decision now.

  • Flip chart your ideas and number the sheets and the bullet points.

  • Have a Parking Lot flip chart to capture ideas that you want to revisit, but that will distract from the current conversation.

  • The discussion leader needs to hold their tongue on their opinions. They control too much of the conversation flow energy to self-impose their will on the discussion.

  • Speak in concrete terms. Who exactly will move that forward? What exactly will that look like?

  • Vote first (blindly) on the ideas that have been presented and then offer judgments. You might find that everyone agrees on the same thing and you can save hours of unnecessary banter time.

  • Creating ideas is a totally separate process from making judgments on ideas. If you do both at the same time, it steals the energy away from the creation process and it inadvertently stunts the effectiveness of the judgments.

These systems are designed to help groups make better decisions AND to make the decision making process shorter and more effective (better ideas, more ideas, cleaner ideas, opinions from everyone, parliamentary procedure style discussion, etc.). These systems also help strip away these two meeting crasher dynamics...

"The ideas that get discussed come primarily from the biggest personality in the room..."


"The people with the most prior experience in the room have better ideas than others..."

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