Workshop D: How to Master the Art of Effective Convening

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How to Master the Art of Effective Convening
Learning how to thoughtfully and purposefully convene the right people in the right way at the right time is part art, part science. In this workshop, participants learned from expert Jeff Cufaude, president and CEO of Idea Architects, about using the power of well-crafted and -implemented in-person meetings to get the most out of their meetings. 
Great meetings start with planning. Cufaude advised allowing for ample pre-meeting preparation time. “Everyone comes in with different expectations—you have to understand the expectations you are managing,” said Cufaude. For example, people may have different expectations of what a meaningful contribution would be. Convening participants come to the setting with different lenses and perspectives that must be respected. For example, introverts and extroverts participate in meetings in unique ways. Other filters include their role, perceived authority in the situation, and comfort and use of technology.
Cufaude also offered best practices for meetings. He offered this totem: “Reporting out from small group discussions sucks the very life out of the room. People have a tolerance for a maximum of three rotations.” Skilled conveners will use a different model to get groups to share information. For example, they could use the “ambassador” model, where each group sends a rep to another table to share info. It’s fast and short, and it make most people pay more attention, according to Cufaude.
The workshop also addressed the issue of people who seem distracted or have been required to attend a meeting. “We don't have ADD,” he said. “We have intention deficit disorder. Be clear on intention, and make decisions based on that.” That could mean structuring the physical space differently to create intention. Above all else, consider the goals of a meeting, and then truly structure the convening to best facilitate meeting those goals.