How Being Coached on Outrigging Helps Make Better Meetings

A few years ago I was part of an outrigger team building activity at the Marine Depot. There were five outriggers, each with four participants and two coaches (the coaches are in yellow above).  We learned about the history of outrigging, about the outrigger itself, and how to paddle and work as a team.  

Finally, we had a RACE—and my outrigger team won!   Why? I’m convinced it was because we had such a good coach in the rear of our boat.  As we practiced before the race, he would fine-tune our technique, coaching us to do a little more of this, a little less of that.  Plus during the race he enthusiastically told us this was the time to really push: “Go, Go, GO!!”  He was an excellent coach. 

In this same way, we can build immediate feedback and coaching into our meetings to fine-tune and continually improve them.  Who doesn’t want to save time, and complete meetings more quickly and efficiently?  Read on!

One thing I highly recommend to participants in my MEETINGS OVER EASY workshops is to use a Process Observer.  

The Process Observer gives a brief (a minute or so) debrief at the end of each meeting, answering questions like:

  • What behaviors from the group resulted in increased participation, energy, or decision-making?
  • When did interest lag?  What was happening?
  • What did the meeting leader and others do that helped the team accomplish the task?

So the report from the Process Observer could simply be one thing that worked well in the meeting and one thing that would benefit us to improve:

“Did everyone notice how we had stalled out, we weren’t getting anywhere, and then Alexis suggested we go around and everyone suggest one idea of how we could make this work, and after that we quickly came up with a solution?   On the other hand, did we notice how for most of the meeting only three people were participating?  We want to work on getting everyone participating.”

What about how the group worked together was helpful and what did the group do that hindered good outcomes?  A Process Observer increases the group’s awareness of itself and how it operates.

(Rather than one person reporting, you can also go around and ask everyone to comment, and some organizations choose to do this, but one person reporting quickly each meeting is more likely to occur consistently.)

So just like an outrigger coach fine-tunes our technique and how we work together to win the race, a Process Observer helps fine-tune our meeting effectiveness with their immediate feedback and coaching.  

We all want to do more of what works for us, what gets things done and gets us out of meetings faster!   

But first we have to notice and identify what these things are.   


To receive information on how everyone in your organization can learn how to have better, shorter, more productive meetings (including virtual meetings), click here.