Your Meeting Coach


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Your Meeting Coach

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  • 03 May 2019 8:43 AM | Anonymous

    The Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities (DCBDD) is requesting proposals for strategic planning facilitation services to guide the development and implementation of our next three year plan. The purpose of this three year plan is to enhance the services and support we provide to our community.  Strategic-Plan-RFP-Delaware county board - due may 8 -2019.pdf

  • 10 Mar 2019 11:44 AM | Anonymous

    Gainesville Housing Authority is requesting proposals from firms or individuals interested in providing GHA with
    Strategic Planning services (RFP 2019-001). RFP Closes: Friday, March 15, 2019 by 5:00 p.m. EST


  • 03 Mar 2019 6:58 PM | Anonymous

    If you are looking for a resource for organizing information and flow, I encourage you to check out these templates.  This is a great resource for a variety of situations.  Some of these could be used for follow up of your strategic planning. 

    Here is the link to the free templates.

  • 02 Mar 2019 5:09 PM | Anonymous

    This looks like an interesting job for those of you with a lot of experience.  It is home based and may require some travel.  Here is the link.

  • 09 Jul 2018 6:43 PM | Anonymous

    TD Bank is offering a grant opportunity to community based organizations for employees to attend approved classes/courses to enhance their job performance.  Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.   If you want to apply for a TD Bank Grant to attend one of our workshops, we will hold your place in any of the following workshops until you have been notified of the grant receipt.  Just send an email to and we will hold your place until you have been notified.

    Facilitation Skills is one of the most highly sought after skills in today's business world. To be able to communicate effectively and coach groups of people on how to work together to hear everyone's voice and achieve consensus, is a valuable lifelong skill. We realize that many smaller organizations do not have the training budget to send someone to a 2 day training.  TD Bank is making that easier by offering a grant.  

    To apply for the grant and for further information on the grant, please click this link.


    Training Opportunities in Florida.  ToP Facilitation Methods - August 28-29th, 2018 - Miami

    ToP Strategic Planning - Nov 6-7, 2018 - Orlando 

    (pre-requisite of ToP Facilitation Methods)

    ToP Facilitation Methods - December 4-5, 2018 - Miami

    Meetings That  Work - Jan 29-30, 2019 - Miami

    Facilitation Graphics - April 1, 2019 - Orlando

    ToP Facilitation Methods - April 2-3, 2019 - Orlando

    Questions?  Call me at 888-400-1029  or email me at 

    Donation Program: Grants of up to $1,000 will be awarded by the TD Charitable Foundation to eligible community-based organizations for employees to attend approved classes/courses that will enhance their job performance, as outlined below.

    Applications (complete with all required attachments) are accepted on a rolling basis, and the TD Charitable Foundation reviews requests monthly. Notification and payout of awards are usually made in the fourth week of each month. Applicants will be notified of donation status between two to six weeks from their donation application submission.

    Individual donation amounts: Organizations shall be eligible to receive no more than $1,000 per calendar year. Donation amounts are to cover tuition only.

    Eligible organizations:

    • Must be tax-exempt under IRS Code 501(c)(3), a public school or other qualified state or local governmental entity and not be classified as a private foundation
    • Must have a mission/focus that promotes one of the following:
      • Affordable housing for low- to moderate-income individuals
      • Increased economic (small business) development
      • Financial literacy for low- and moderate-income youth, individuals or families
      • After-school or extracurricular programming for low- and moderate-income children
    • Must be located within a TD Bank, N.A. market area
    • Must comply with the TD Charitable Foundation's anti-discrimination policy

    Eligible use of funds:

    • Classes and courses must be pertinent to the job the employee performs
    • Classes and courses may be one-day classes or part of a certification program
    • Attendance at a conference is not eligible under the program
    • Classes and courses should not have been already completed at the time of the application
    • Classes and courses should be planned to be attended at least 30 days from the donation application submission
    The online donation application process begins with the submission of the organization's Tax Identification Number (TIN) followed by an eligibility quiz. If your organization, classes and/or courses are eligible for the Non-profit Training Resource Fund donation program, you will access the Donation Application

  • 04 Jun 2018 7:46 AM | Anonymous

    I calculated one time that I have spent one year of my life on conference calls. If you are like me, the worst thing you can do is to be on a conference call where it was unproductive.  My measurement of a good and valuable conference call is that every participant feels as though they contributed and it was worth their time to be on the call.  Here are some basic tips for those leading conference calls to get the most of their participants’ time.

    1.     No agenda – no meeting.  Would you get in your car and start driving without knowing where you are going? No! Of course not. So why would you join a conference call that you don’t know why you are on the call or what the expected result of the meeting is.  Agendas should be sent out in plenty of time for the participants to have time to complete any tasks assigned to them. If you have not assigned any tasks to anyone, and are not expecting them to update the group, then why are you having the meeting?

    2.     Leaders need to be inclusive. If your meeting consists of the leader of the group talking more than 50% of the time, I would like to suggest you send a memo instead of hosting a meeting.  The reason for meetings is to engage the total group in working together to complete a task, mission or objectives. If your group is not engaged and volunteering to help with the projects that are on the agenda, then the committee needs to have a discussion about its priorities and what is important to everyone and the organization.

    3.     Respect those who show up on time. When you state that a meeting is starting at 8am, for example, the meeting leader should be on the call ready to go by 7:50 am for those who are on early. The meeting should start promptly on time and late arrivals should be acknowledged at the end of the meeting. DO NOT STOP and re-iterate everything that has been said when someone arrives late. Offer to stay on the call and “catch them up” at the end of the meeting. If you continue to start over, people will start to call in later knowing that you are starting later and they won’t miss anything. Also it disrespects those who do show up on time. Things do happen and people are late and always will be. Staying on to coach them on what they missed helps them and also honors the group that was on time.

    4.     Use technology that is available. There is technology that will make your calls better that doesn’t cost you any money.  An example is has an online screen display for the meeting leader (host) that shows you who is on the phone. You can watch as people join the audio call and call out their name, saying hello. It will give you a record of the length of time that someone is on the call. Using technology, you are able to see who is creating that background noise and mute them. They will get a personal voice memo that says “You have been muted”. You can then un-mute them in a few minutes to see if their background noise has stopped. Lastly you can record the calls and share them with those who were unable to attend. Have you ever considered just sending a recording of the call for your minutes?

    5.     Come to a conclusion at the end of each meeting. Have a wrap up portion of the meeting. Confirm who is doing what, when the next meeting is and how you will track actions and follow up.  In a future article we will visit options for tracking action items.

  • 31 Jul 2016 11:39 AM | Anonymous

    You have seen them.  They are the people that always have a different opinion.   They know the ONLY way to do something.  They don't want to even consider another way.  We have all worked with them.   Everyone wants to know how do we deal with that type of person? 

    Before you can deal with that type of person, you need to look at why do they take that hard stance?    What is it that makes them feel that they are right?

    Generally, people take a difficult stance for one or more of the following reasons:


    1. They experienced a similar situation before that was not successful and are convinced this will not be successful either so why are you wasting my time.
    2. They don't have enough "context" information to see the big picture.  Their scope of knowledge is only a portion of the entire problem, situation or project.
    3. They may have some personal issues that they are dealing with that prevent them from fully participating.  
    4. They are afraid that they will appear weak among their peers and reports.  They have a need to always be right. 
    5. They are afraid of failure.  If you don't do it my way it won't work and then I will be responsible anyway. 

    These are just a few of the real reasons that people behave in a difficult manner.   I believe there are underlying issues for most people when they behave in this way.  Your meetings need to be structured to mitigate these behaviors.   You may not be able to prevent them all but you can certainly start to establish a process to reduce them.  Here are just a few suggestions. 

    1. Be sure that the people you have in the meeting are there for a reason.  Don't invite everyone.  Invite only those that need to participate.  If you have a group of people that simply need to be "in the know" send them a memo.   Otherwise, you will be wasting time. 
    2. Let the group share what they feel the desired outcome of the meeting should be.  What would they consider "success" of the meeting.  Each person may have a totally different idea of why they are even at the meeting.  
    3. When you see bad behavior do something.   Move around the room, go stand by the person who is having the side conversation. They will stop. 
    4. Be sure you have enough small group discussions built into the meeting so that they have a chance to share information with their neighbors. 
    5. Have a defined, interesting and engaging agenda and discussion.   If the participants at the meeting are able to check their email while in the meeting, you have room to improve your meeting and agenda planning.  Participants should not be interested in checking their email ( unless they are on call or in need) and should be drawn to the meeting. They should know that they are a part of the meeting and their voices and input is important.  

    One of skills that is growing in demand is "facilitation" skills.  To be adapt at designing and facilitating meetings takes training and research.  ICA-USA and ICA-Associates, Canada have spent decades developing facilitation training based on successful implementation of those methods.   Consider taking one of the two upcoming classes offered by ICA-USA and ICA-Canada.  ICA-USA  ToP TM Facilitation Methods will show you two methods (Focused Conversation and Consensus Workshop) and one process ( Action Planning).   The ICA-Canada class will show you how to determine the "right" people to have in the room, develop agendas,  room set up, flip chart tips , 72 activities to use in your meetings and how to deal with difficult people.   

    More information on the "Meetings That Work" course from ICA Associates of Canada can be found at

    For information on offerings in the Florida area, visit our training page on this website at Face-to-Face

  • 24 Jul 2016 11:54 AM | Anonymous

    No matter how much you prepare in advance for a meeting,  each person has different expectations of what would mean a successful outcome of the meeting.    Each participant brings with them their own experiences, knowledge and ideas.  If you give participants an opportunity to share their idea of what success looks like, you will not only give each of them an opportunity to have their voice heard and know what a successful outcome would mean to them.   

    Example:  If you are facilitating a meeting to evaluate a current practice for improvement, some potential outcomes may be:   "Identify what practices need to be change, added or deleted"  or  a different outcome may be, "Create a who new set of practices" .  If someone is anticipating the project to be completed at the end of the meeting and the actual outcome is just a "step" in that direction, they will be disappointed.  

    The following exercise will help you to gain clarity on what the participants expectations are of the meeting.  

    Procedures in person:

    1. Ask each person to write down their thoughts in answer to,  "At the end of this meeting, how will we know it was a success?" 
    2. Ask each person to write 2 or 3 statements that answer the question,  "What needs to occur during this meeting for those outcomes to be met?"   
    3. Have the group get into pairs and discuss what they think needs to occur and each pair select 3 things from their list for the meeting to be successful. 
    4. Either have them write them on half sheets or large post its.  Collect the sheets or post it and put them up on the wall in front of the room and read them as you place them. 
    5. Or have the teams read to you their top items per pair and list on a flip chart. 
    6. You can refer back to this chart at the end of the meeting reflecting on how well you achieved the desired outcomes. 

    Procedures for virtual meeting with and without break out rooms: 

    1. Post the first question and ask everyone to write down at their desk the answer to question number one. 
    2. Ask the second question and ask them to write their answers on a piece of paper at the desks (individual brainstorming step)
    3. Place them into break out rooms and ask them to come up with 2 or 3 items per room that need to be accomplished for this meeting to be successful using their brainstorm lists with either chat boxes or white boards.
    4. Bring them all back to the main room and ask each group to report out posting their top items on a chat box. 
    5. Keep this chat box handy for referring to later at the end of the meeting. 
    6. If there are no break out rooms available ask the participants to star their most important "need" on the paper list and put that into the chat box to answer the second question.
    7. You can refer back to this chart at the end of the meeting reflecting on how well you achieved the desired outcomes. 

    Attribution:  Canadian Institute of Cultural Affairs Meetings That Work,  Jo Nelson's Meeting Tools,  IAF Methods Online Database,  Rosemary Pell, Pell & Pell Systems, Inc. Ontario Canada

    For more tools like this consider attending the Tallahassee location of Meetings That Work,  2 day workshop developed by the Institute of Cultural Affairs Canada. This is the first time this class will be offered to the public in the USA. 

  • 04 Jul 2016 4:15 PM | Anonymous

    Virtual meetings are becoming more common than in person meetings today.  I personally facilitate over 20 standings meetings per month for committees or training opportunities.  My goal is to engage each person on the call and make them feel as though they contributed to the outcome of the meeting.  

    I was once a participant on a virtual call and I was able to mute my phone and vacuum my office without ever having to un-mute.  The presenter read each of the slides on the screen and I didn't even have to look at the slides.  I often wondered why they didn't just send them out to everyone to view on their own time.  If they were worried that no one would view them, they could offer a contest for answering questions related to the content.  I felt that it was a waste of my time and hope to lead a meeting like that.

    Here are some quick tips for your next virtual meeting or training.


    • Use a wired Internet connection
    • Power off any devices using the internet that are not necessary that are using the same internet connection
    • Reboot your computer 2 hours before the broadcast time
    • Close any programs that you do not need to have open
    • Use a secondary "participant" computer to see what your participants see
      Use a headset and microphone
    • If you are using a headset and microphone, mute your computer speakers to avoid feedback
    • Develop your meeting based on the lowest common denominator of technology savvy
    • If you are not recording the meeting, use a separate phone line for audio 
      Use an audio service that allows administrator to mute lines
    • Power off your cell phone. 
      if you need to leave your cell phone on for messages, do not put it near your computer.

    At the conclusion

    • Send your participants a survey asking for feedback
    • Don't start a private conversation with other hosts or presenters at the end.  You may still have participants listening that have not logged out.


    • Greet the participants with a friendly opening.  
    • Do not let them sit in silence wondering if they are in the right place
    • Allow participants to chat with each other - do not disable that function unless you are embarrassed about how few participants you have. 
    • Ask your presenter to give you a backup copy of their presentation.  If their internet connection fails, you can continue the presentation running the presentation from your computer while they are on a phone line giving the audio portion. 
    • Have the presentation available in two formats.  If you are using a powerpoint, convert it to a pdf as a back up.  The "transitions" and "movies" will not play but you will not have to cancel your event due to a bad file format in powerpoint.
    • Scale your pictures.  Screen resolution is 72 dpi.  Cameras now take photos at 600 dpi and higher. The higher the resolution the bigger the file. Just because you "scale" the photo down when you placed it into the file, the program still "loads" the full size file and then scales it, resulting in additional bandwidth unnecessarily used. Scale your photos before you place them to make the file size the smallest.
    • Don't use "transitions".  You are not trying to "entertain" the participants.  You are conveying knowledge and creating a community of learning, so don't include anything that doesn't meet that objective.  Transitions do nothing but make people dizzy and take up additional memory. 

    Presenter tips

    • Practice in advance "live" with your presenter. 
    • Instruct them to practice from the location of which they will be presenting.  If they do a practice with you from their office with a fiber internet connection and they are live from a hotel with wifi on your broadcast day, it will not go well. 

    Meetings less that 20 people with participant audio

    • Start your meeting with a basic question of interest, such as "where are you today and what do you see out your window?"  This gives you a chance to hear their audio connection quality and predict any issues. 

    Keeping participants engaged

    • Integrate the participants into the process.  Ask them to read from the screen. 
    • Plan your event such that participants that are not using the visual can still hear the audio and participate. 
    • Vary the voices that are heard by asking participants to read a portion of what is on the screen.   This also keeps them paying attention as they may be worried about you asking them to read. 

    Practice and use available technology

    • Technology is great but be an expert at it before you use it.   Many on line services offer "breakout" rooms, collaborative discussions, pop up windows so you can direct all participants to a specific web page that opens on their computer, down loadable files and music on hold. 
    • Online gaming is great and very interactive. 
    • Before you roll out one of these tools be sure you assess your capabilities,  the bandwidth of your audience, your audience's expected technical capabilities and lastly practice, practice, practice prior to going live. 

    Meetings without participant audio
    Of course, do not offer a dial in phone option, you don't need one.  I have been on a call where you had to dial into a phone line but were never un-muted. I could have listened through my computer speakers and text any questions.

    Use polling questions to keep participants engaged.
    Ask participants to answer questions using a chat box.  Some platforms (Adobeconnect) will offer multiple chats that can be topic specific as well as person to person private chats.

    What tips do you have to add to this list?

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