- Exciting to be able to welcome back Dr. Linda LeBlanc, some of you may have participated in her webinar. I think it's probably been maybe three years ago, two and a half years ago now. Dr. LeBlanc joined us for a webinar presentation which if you haven't had an opportunity to listen to it is available on our autism and education website. So it is archived there for your viewing pleasure at your convenience if you're interested. Dr. LeBlanc has been a great supporter and a great advocate for our APTC community in the past, she's certainly been very, very generous with her time and with her resources and her expertise. And she has some connections to the Atlantic provinces, as you may guess from her surname. She does have some connections to the Acadian community here in Atlantic Canada so it's very exciting to bring her to join us by webinar. Dr. LeBlac also has experience teaching at the university level, she has clinical experience working with individuals with autism, with behavioral challenges of a variety of ages and needs. She's been involved with Trumpet Behavioral Health, and she's also done a lot of really fascinating work in behavioral gerontology so I'm not going to go into her entire her career and her bio because you can certainly read that in some of the information that's gone out, but I can certainly say that she brings a wealth of experience and a wide range of opportunities and expertise to us and so it's very exciting to be able to have her here with us for an hour and a half or so this afternoon. And I will turn the presentation over to Dr. LeBlanc so thank you so much for joining us. - Thank you Shelley, for that wonderful introduction, I'm delighted to be here and always happy to be able to reconnect with my wonderful Canadian colleagues in the Atlantic provinces. Questions. It could be that you need to communicate something and the questions will be somewhat complex. For example, how will we manage this and this and keep students safe during COVID? Well, there may be a list of things but the question may get more complex with the follow-up questions. What if someone is identified? What if someone is exposed, but they have not tested positive? What if it is the teacher? What if it is the aid in the classroom? What if it's a student? Variety of these kinds of things really probably benefit from a dynamic interaction. The other time when communication is important in a meeting is discussion prior to a decision, so I think we've probably all been in student planning meetings and you know annuals and what have you, where we're going to be talking about many different bits of information, that will inform our goal setting and our development of instructional programming. And, it's not just well send yours in and send yours in and we'll make a list and go forward. If we did that, we may end up with far too many things on the list than could possibly be done in a year. But if we all meet and discuss them and identify priorities, then we have a reasonable approach moving forward. Sometimes our meeting can also include problem solving. Maybe we're identifying that there is a problem, maybe we're analyzing why is this occurring? I particularly like a meeting structure for brainstorming and evaluation of the options. What I find is that in a brainstorming meeting, you can set the stage for people to be interested, excited, creative and generative of those great ideas. And in doing a pro con analysis as a group, perhaps a small group, you're going to get a broader array of those pros and cons more than one person could identify on their own. You may also use a meeting for implementation planning. All of these are actually fantastic reasons to have a meeting and you certainly are going to be less effective at some of them for example, you may not be able to have as good a brainstorming session over email, it's possible, but that kind of live dynamic, even if it's via technology really can enhance the quality of the great ideas that you come up with. You know, so there are lots of in which we might do some performance management and I distinguish that from project management. So as a licensed psychologist, and board certified behavior analyst I provide supervision and oversight of people's work and I have for, I don't know, maybe decades now. And so I use meetings to set regularity of our interaction and that can facilitate deadlines and accountability. Most things don't get done without a deadline unless they're your very favorite hobby. That supervision, check-in, support, whether it's a direct supervision or just a mentoring relationship, having a schedule of check-in really allows people to encounter situations and be a little bit more confident that they're going to have someone they can check-in with in short order. Certainly oversight of work quality and most importantly, identification and management of barriers to success. So for example, you may meet with a paraprofessional classroom aid who is indicating that there are some difficulties with implementing behavior plan or collecting data and you might meet with them to manage those barriers. Okay, we still have to implement the behavior plan or we still have to collect the data, or we still have to be able to have these speech language sessions, let's talk about what's making it hard, identify some strategies that we can use. So all of that I think can be a tremendous purpose of a meeting. And then some of the meetings that I like best are project management, where we decide we're going to do something together. So some while back Shelley reached out to me and said, "Hey Linda, I'd like to have you do some training for our group in the Atlantic provinces" and I said, "Oh, wonderful well here are a few ideas." And she said, "Let's set up a time to meet and we'll talk through them and we'll talk about well which of these would we wanna put in there? What will be our deadlines? When would we like this to happen?" So, all of that partially done via email and partially done in a meeting was designed to have this training project come to life. Now COVID threw a little bit of a wrench in the works because we were all supposed to be together live last May, but that's okay, we actually had some follow up email and if I'm not mistaken perhaps a phone call to revise the plan. So all of those kinds of interaction, manage a project, are really what allow us to turn good ideas into useful experiences. So from that same book "Death by Meeting," Lencioni talks about how you might think about how often you should be meeting and what you should be doing in those meetings. For example, in some circumstances it's good to have a daily check-in and this is usually brief maybe just a 10 or 15 minute meeting. And this is something that certainly let's say a teacher and classroom assistance and what have you might do. How's it going? Here's our priority. Don't forget Billy has to go to this and that. And so those little daily check-ins help to support implementation today. But we may also have some weekly tactical kinds of meetings so this is not just about what will you do today, but what do we hope to achieve, and how are we going to do it in the next week? What will we do in the next week that gets us to a bigger goal? Monthly meetings typically are about setting an evaluating strategy. So not just the, how did we do it, but what is it that we should be striving for? And then, he recommends quarterly offsite reviews. Now, in our educational settings these tend to become more semi-annual or annual. When we think about a student's planning meeting that we'll set what we call an IEP, and maybe you call it a student plan that will certainly occur once per year. Potentially you may have an update meeting each kind of half year or term. So knowing how well you are holding to the rhythm of the meetings and the purpose of the meetings will potentially make your meetings better and help you determine maybe we don't need the daily check-in today. Let's have that protected time each morning, but some days we may not need them. Maybe we have a weekly tactical meeting that's set for every week and what we find is that we end up keeping three out of four of them, and on the other one, it's like, you know what? I think we don't need it this week, there's not enough content, I'll just send a quick email. Now, there are some other functions of a meeting that I find important and many of these are better accomplished with a meeting and the meeting will be more robust if you also remember these opportunities. So for me, meetings are also about social connection and support. You know, if it is someone who is implementing a behavior plan, they're there, they're doing it every day. The job is hard and sometimes they just need social support, could also be observation and data collection, that is you may need to see how people are working together and getting along. You may feel like, well, when one of our higher up persons in the organization is in the meeting, they are also observing how are my folks doing in multidisciplinary collaboration. When I'm watching you in the meeting, I may create opportunities for you and relax so that I can see are things going well? Can we facilitate? I'm a big fan of praise, reinforcement, smiles and laughs as a way to convey to people that they matter and that the hard work that they're doing is something that I value. And of course, I'm sure you do too sometimes use a meeting for specific instruction and training. Now you could have a training like this a big one, lots of people here, you know, one person is delivering the training and what have you, but sometimes just as 10 or 15 minutes of a meeting we might talk through some specific change, or some specific procedure and provide that training. As I mentioned, meetings often function as deadlines, and then I like to think of meetings as the opportunity for collaboration and creativity. Now, if my only identified purpose of a meeting is collaboration and creativity, I probably won't have that meeting, but if there are multiple of these purposes and functions of the meeting, then it's worthwhile to have your meeting, and then it becomes about having an effective meeting. Remember, it's not meetings themselves, it's all of those descriptors that make the meeting great, or make the meeting a horrible, play, inefficient and overcrowded, et cetera. Now, one of the things that I find important is that effective meetings really require certain behavior from everyone. First, you have to plan the meeting in advance and the effort that you put into that is going to dramatically influence how effective the meeting will be. Second, throughout the meeting, now that we're in the meeting, the owner or leader has to manage the meeting. There are certain things that we need to accomplish in a certain amount of time. And the meeting attendees have to manage themselves, participate and contribute. And if anyone is not taking care of their part in this lineup, the quality of the meeting can suffer. So let's talk about planning the meeting and in general this is going to be definitely started by the meeting leader with the opportunity for input from everyone else. So the meeting leader is the one who has to ask that question, do I need a meeting and do I have the right people? Are the roles clearly specified? Do these people know why they're here? And who owns the meeting? Me okay, great. Well then I'm gonna plan and distribute the agenda in advance. I use an agenda as a tool to help everyone be more effective. The first thing that an agenda needs to have are the task assignments. That is, what each person going to be presenting, talking about, et cetera. And those assignments come in a specific order, it is not just a list. I think through all of the things that need to happen and what progressive rhythm and content is likely to make the meeting go well. I will not likely start the meeting off with a highly contentious thing. We'll start off with an update, a reminder, perhaps a reiteration of the importance of our collaboration, a few updates, then we might get into that. So that specific order of content ensures we've got the right things on there and that we talk about the one we need to talk about first, particularly if another one next in the line requires that we've already had that conversation. Another thing that I think it's important to put into your agenda is an estimated timing. Let's say someone is going to be presenting their assessment results and how this should influence a student's programming, and you know, really they've got about 10 minutes of time to do that in, but they were not told that in advance. So when they show up they just say the things they're going to say which may well be 25 minutes worth of content. Well, inadvertently, they may be eliminating other people's opportunity to present, to participate by gobbling up all the time so by communicated that estimated timing from the beginning, it increases the chances that person's gonna say, "Oh 10 minutes, let me think through how long this is going to take and how I can best convey my information in that amount of time." And here you go, this is the important thing. All of those estimated timings cannot add up to more than the total time allotted and no meeting will actually go all of the minutes. So for example, if we have a 30 minute meeting, I should program about 25 minutes of content because someone may show up one minute late or two minutes late, and everyone likely needs to get to something else which may mean that we need to wrap up a minute or two early. Even in this Zoom world that we all work in, we may have to get out of one meeting and then get into another one and it may be on an entirely different platform. So think of it this way, a 30 minute meeting should have about 25 minutes of content, a one hour meeting should have 50 minutes of content, in doing this if you run a minute or two long or start a minute late, your still fine and everyone will be able to get to their next thing on time. So you are not interfering with their ability to be prompt and accountable for their other things because your meeting went too long. Here is an example of an agenda for an initial session with let's say a supervisee for psychology or behavior analysis. If I'm going to be their supervisor in training, I'm gonna go through this material and you can see I've got the overall estimated duration, and the things that I'm going to cover and I'll begin by welcoming them to the experience and explaining that I wanna get to know each other. We'll all talk about the importance of our understanding one another and our ways of communicating with each other so that we have easy and healthy and enjoyable supervisory relationship. I talk a little bit about the importance of our reinforcers and our priorities and that we understand each of those for each other. And I will typically describe some of my background and experience as a supervisor, a few relevant aspects of my life, my interests and my guiding values that, you know, as Shelley mentioned, I have this job and this career because I have the commitment to making the world better for people with a variety of differential abilities, whether those are for young children or adults, or even much older adults and regardless of whether that different ability is related to ASD or dementia, that's my mission and that's kind of how I see through that lens with everything that I do. And I talk a little bit to that supervisee, about well, here you are embarking on learning all of this, tell me about why you think this is gonna be a great thing to learn to do, I wanna hear a little bit about them and I wanna set them up to view our supervision as a place where their guiding values are gonna grow and be shaped. Then we'll talk about a super vision contract and what have you. Then we'll talk about how to create an agenda for supervision. Now, I have the estimates here, the talkier someone is in that beginning part, the closer we'll be to 30 minutes instead of 50. Then if we're pretty straightforward in the contract, we may be at the 20 minute in or what have you, when we get to how to create an agenda for supervision I actually pull out this agenda, so they will not have seen it prior to this. And, if I've done it well we should be right around the 35 to 45 minute mark. And they will see, oh, this meeting didn't just happen this way you planned that we would talk about these things so we just had a great discussion that, you know, each topic led into the other, but that didn't happen by happenstance. We planned it and we planned how long it would take. I then give them these kinds of instructions about how to create their own agenda and I give them a collaboration activity that's gonna guide our future discussions about feedback and teaching strategies. And then I ask them to like think about these collaboration questions and come up with answers and we'll review that next time. I talk with them about documentation and storage et cetera, and then we plan for the next contact. So this kind of agenda can be modified if we've only got an hour or a half hour, it's just that only certain parts of it will occur. I give them this agenda as a model and then what you'll see is that in the bottom of planning for the next contact, I've got these items that are setting the supervisee up to write the agenda for next time. So I'm actively teaching that person how to write the agenda. Well, one of the things that needs to go on there is to complete the collaboration tool. We're going to reveal it next time so that's on your to-do list and then an agenda item for next time is review the collaboration tool. There's a reminder to bring the documentation and review materials, and that should be on the agenda. Review documentation. And, I have them send that draft agenda 48 hours in advance. I say, send me the agenda and I'm going to give you some feedback on the agenda and get it back to you so that you can prepare and by the way, I'm gonna likely wanna add an item to that agenda and it's usually on the role of feedback and I tell them what the time estimate should be. So, if your meeting is for an entirely different purpose, you can still do the same things. What is it that we need to do together and how long shall we be there? If it is a group meeting, you need a few minutes for welcome and introductions and sometimes those introductions can become unexpectedly long. So let's say you've allotted five minutes for welcome and introductions, if the agenda specifies that, the meeting leader can say, "Let's go ahead and introduce ourselves just briefly we only have five minutes for the whole group, but give us a few details, I'll go first." And then you model a brief direct succinct introduction. Hi everyone, I'm Linda LeBlanc, I'm the psychologist on the team. I've known this student for however long and I'm excited to talk about blah, blah blah, next. It's part of how the meeting manager sets the group up to be able to go through that agenda in a timely fashion. Now, more and more we actually have to think about our platform and our materials. So that is we're not hanging out in conference rooms so much the way we used to, and we have to think in advance about what you're going to need for the platform. If it's a technology platform, everyone needs that invitation. Our wonderful Shelley sent us a reminder with that link to hop in at just the right time. That's a fantastic thing to do. Remind people, give them what they need, you know, make sure that that platform is going to work, before you logged on we made sure my PowerPoint would show and not be cut off. That's critical and ever more critical when we are operating via technology. But I will say this, you know if you ever show up in the conference room and you know you need to share a presentation and there is no means to project the image, suddenly that meeting's not gonna go the way that it could. So planning that, doing a little bit of double checking before really can help your meeting go better. The other thing is this and I think this is really one of the worst parts of business and industry. That is, people are just certain this is an emergency and we have to have a meeting and we need to do it at the time that I say we do. And the highest level people in the organization call these meetings at relatively short notice and disrupt the other scheduled activities. Now, I don't know if that happens where you work but my guess is it happens at least some. Now, things have been a bit different during this pandemic and in fact, we do have some emergency meetings and I know for many organizations those actually involved into a daily huddle where what's the new challenge of the day. In general, selecting that optimal time for meetings, you know, in school systems a lot of times it's that right before classes, right after classes. You want people to be able to participate effectively and to have a minimal impact on their productivity. You know, outside of classroom settings, one of the things that can be problematic is if you have meetings during the prime time that you should be with your clients and children, that means we can't use the only time that we have. You also don't want to have that 4:30 in the afternoon meeting, where we suddenly expect everyone to be brainstorming and creative and collaborative and you know, perky as can be when they are wilty from a long day that starts early. And so when possible, it's really better to have those standing meetings and cancel them if you don't. Or at least one to five days notice for a meeting. Now, oops, there was one other thing that I wanted to mention and that is not only the calender during and paying attention to the time, but the more people that you are trying to get into that meeting, the greater the likelihood that it's going to be hard to find the time that works for everyone, which is one of the reasons why having only the people you need in the meeting is important. In addition to a handout, I sent Shelley a copy of this article that she can distribute to you. It has an appendix, which is a little checklist for your planning, just so you can self evaluate. Okay, do I know what these purposes and goals of my meetings are? Some of them are explicit and some of them are more implicit, unstated purposes. Is this a recurring or no? And am I good to go on my platform, my equipment et cetera? Have I sent out those reminders? And then there's my planning checklist, is the meeting necessary? Does each participant have a contribution et cetera? Has the agenda been developed and sent to participants? So you might even think of the most recent meeting that you had and evaluate that one. And you can use this for your own feedback. I really like to put myself in a position to be my own best teacher, if I reflect on and evaluate my own behavior against a checklist, as long as I'm honest, I know what I need to change and I can work on that. So, that's planning the meeting. What about conducting the meeting? Well, I think that begins just a bit before the actual meeting. And so what that means is if you own a meeting have to give yourself this cushion. Shelley did not arrive at this training at the minute it started, she was here earlier and I was here soon after her, but before the rest of you perhaps. So here are a few strategies, sending that reminder could be one to 24 hours in advance with the agendas, the roles, the tasks, the time and the place. That can be important because someone may be on that agenda and not have remembered that that update or task was going to be due and this, it's all already done, but if not this at least gives them the opportunity to be ready on time. And so if you can send it 48 hours in advance, that gives even a little bit more cushion with that reminder and prompt. It is important to start the meeting on time. So even though it took a minute or so for folks to get into the meeting, at just about one minute after Shelley began this training. And she restated some purposes and objectives, here's what we're here for, this is what this is. Now, in a meeting let's say for a student plan, a multidisciplinary meeting, you may explicitly state some purposes say, what are we doing here? You know, and anchor it if at all possible to your values this is our opportunity to focus exclusively on our wonderful student X and his family. And to spend time reflecting on what things we have achieved this year and what goals we wanna set for next year. Okay, also assign a timekeeper. It may be the case that the meeting conductor and notice this picture, I view a well-run meeting as like an orchestra conductor, conducting the orchestra. That is, you want things to start on time, move on time, everybody's in sync. If everyone started the song at different places or went at different speeds, it would sound horrible. Orchestra conductors fascinate me because they control many people's behavior with great precision, so that things occur beautifully. And it's one of the things that you can aspire to, if you're gonna have fantastic meetings. You may be able to run the meeting and manage all the dynamics and manage the time yourself or not. You may need to assign a timekeeper if you don't do it yourself. You may need a note taker. And then there will likely be at least a few people who take the floor or present. Now, I think it is important to identify the time keeping tool and just a little secret, I have mine right here. This is my timer and it tells me how many more minutes I have left in my part of the presentation. Now, I may finish up a minute or two early, but I don't wanna finish up late because that would cut into the time for questions. So I use this and I have it placed where I can see it. I don't use my phone because it goes black, and I can't use my computer timer because it's not visible on my screen. So use the timekeeping tool that's going to be effective for you. I think too many people rely on their phone, that they have to actually do something to make that effective as a time keeping tool. If there is a visible clock on the wall of a conference room or what have you, that helps everyone during their turn to be able to watch that clock and manage their time. You wanna move through the agenda consistently and efficiently. This is where that meeting leader really is the orchestra conductor. It means keeping people on task, engaged, keeping the discussion positive, professional, collaborative. All of that might be quite easy if you have a wonderfully well-functioning team. But not all teams function perfectly and sometimes there are some minor tensions or difficulties or maybe a secondary agenda or what have you, and the meeting leader should be someone who helps to manage, conduct in the meeting so that everyone feels like they are able to have a productive experience. Another thing that's important is assigning tasks and making decisions. Now this is not necessarily important in all meetings, but I'm not sure I've ever been to a meeting where I didn't have assigned task coming out of it, or where a task had not been assigned to someone else. That is if our goal is to have this meeting with some purposes and objectives, very often there is a followup activity. Those things need to be written down, and the tasks they need to be assigned based on the reasonableness of the match between the person and their available time and the tasks. And, if we need to make decisions in the meeting, it's ever more important that we actually thought through whether everyone that we need to make that decision is actually present and is likely to get to a point of being comfortable making a decision. The other thing that that meeting leader does is facilitate and give contributors and presenters the floor. So that is, you're kind of navigating how everyone is going to interact with each other. Now, I wish every meeting went beautifully and I wish it was all easy as pie. I think that in general we first become better meeting attendees and then we become better meeting leaders. I do think it's one of the more challenging tasks that you can have because there are certain common meeting problems that pop up just because we're human. We're not perfect, we're not always under our optimal conditions and most people have never been taught how to have a good meeting. And so guess what? The propensity is to have not so good meetings, that's why they happen so often. So this table in the article gives you some common things that happen in meetings and some suggested strategies, and even some suggested language. Now you may already be a very savvy meeting leader, and if so, add your own ideas to this and distribute it to your colleagues. But, if not just having some ideas and some starter language can really help. For example, interruptions are common. I tend to be one of those energetic, excited people and I have to very actively monitor myself for interrupting, and remember to immediately apologize and say, oh, I'm sorry, you go ahead when I do interrupt. You're better off having ground rules for respecting other meeting participants opportunities to contribute. If the interrupter doesn't recognize that they're interrupting, you can ask them to hold their comments for a moment. So for example, you could say, "Could you hold that thought for a moment. Joe, I would love to hear the rest of what you were saying, that sounded interesting to me, or let's come back to that later in the meeting, I'm gonna make a note for that." And if it's occurring frequently you might provide some post-meeting private feedback. Now that's hard, most people aren't comfortable doing that, but you certainly should expect it to continue, if interruptions encounter only reinforcing consequences. Another one that I think is common in meetings, and to be honest with you interruptions are even more common in I think these web-based platform meetings because there can be a bit of a delay, so you're almost more likely to kind of begin speaking over each other. Another one that I think is important to pay attention to is distractions. Most of us, at least some of the time multitask and some people have histories where meetings are not particularly necessary, not particularly engaging, and it's their opportunity to multitask. I'm gonna actually manage my email during this meeting, or I'm gonna actually whatever it is, be on my phone, answer texts. If the meeting was important, was necessary which is the reason why you decided to have it in the first place, then everyone there does have a purpose 'cause that was also part of your planning for the meeting. So of course have an engaging dynamic well-run meeting, but somebody is gonna still be inadvertently distracting people. And what I find is that most people don't realize that their distractions distract others. They think they're only doing what they're doing, and they're not realizing that their personal device and notifications going off through the meeting, interrupts everyone else's attention. So again, you've got your proactive strategies and your reactive strategies. Tell people at the beginning, please turn off your personal devices and your notifications so that we don't have the constant banging and dinging, we're so excited to have the opportunity to do this together, let's be fully focused. And, if you do have someone who's notifications go off and it's a loud ring tone, politely ask the person to stop. And you know, we give you a couple of examples, Melissa Nosik's I think hilarious and she came up with this one, "That ringtone definitely gets your attention, could I get you to silence it for now." We were talking about the funniest like super loud song ringtones that had gone off in our meetings where suddenly we're listening to, you know, whatever classic rock or who knows what. You know, if you could see, sometimes people it's like they don't have that perspective taking in that public private, so they're sitting there, just banging away on their computer while everyone else is discussing and you know, but there's not anything to be taking notes about, and they're clearly sending emails and the people next to them can see that. Well, if your meeting leader is in the right position they could say, "Could I ask you to close your email for the rest of the meeting? And I don't wanna miss out on the opportunity to get your input." I think that's important because it conveys to everyone else in the meeting that you want this to be a time where we respect each other's times. You know, if it is an absolutely critical email and an emergency, you can always momentarily excuse yourself from the meeting, but being in the room and talking, or things going off or doing something else, interrupts and distracts everyone else's experience you know, at the expense of you perhaps solving whatever problem has arisen. Off task behavior similarly this can take the form of, you know those distractions, but it can also take the form of let's start a different conversation, or I'm telling jokes or whatever it might be that is off track of topic. And there are some people who tend to pull off of agenda, but yeah, but what about this? Well, that's not our agenda and we do need to get to the things on our agenda, let's put that on for next week. So, over time as a meeting leader becomes more capable and more confident of these strategies that will help them make the experience a better one for everyone. Here's another one that can be somewhat uncomfortable, interpersonal conflict or combative responses. Let's say there are a couple of people in the meeting who don't like each other very much and people know that. Or, you know, generally for whatever reason have some difficulty working together collaboratively. Well, as the meeting leader if I know that there might be a few things I would do. I might kind of arrange for people to sit a certain place if we can, I might establish some ground rules for behavior during the meeting, maybe related to interruptions, distractions, respecting each other's ideas and opinions. You might also, if you see a conversation becoming more negative, the meeting leader can interject before the next opportunity to respond negatively today and here are a couple of different options. This seems to be getting heated, I'm happy you both care so much about this issue but let's take a break from this discussion for now and we'll return to this hot button topic later. It communicates, I value both of you and what you have to say but you may not realize how much your distress or dislike for each other is showing in this professional context. Let's give it a minute, we'll hit the reset button. So, the other thing is, you know, when people do respond in a collaborative fashion really reinforce that and do your best to reinforce equitably between participants so that it doesn't become kind of a competitive situation. And of course there are technology problems, so I hope this meeting gives, I mean I'm sorry this article gives you some ideas to get you started if you are relatively new to running meetings. Well, actually let's just pause for a moment, are there any questions that have shown up in the chat or the Q and A, or does anyone wanna chat an example of different strategies or phrases that they've used in meetings to manage when others are perhaps having some of what I think of as meeting misbehavior. - So I don't see any questions in the chat yet, but by all means if anyone has a question go ahead and type that in the chat, or if you'd prefer to ask your question with your microphone, then just go ahead and raise your hand and I'll enable your microphone. And then there's also the Q and A feature as well so we'll give folks a second. I did actually have a question, there were a lot of things that you mentioned that I'm really interested in. I'm interested in the idea of co-constructing the agenda and if you're working with a small group or individually, then that seems easier, would you also work on co-constructing an agenda if you were having a larger team meeting and what might that look like? - Yeah, so it depends on how big the group is, right? So the bigger the group, the less that can get done. I generally find. So what I might do is let's say take a stronger lead in developing the agenda, but still send it out and say if anyone has anything else they wanna add to the agenda, send it to me and then I'll work that in, you can just send it in a reply email and that usually sets people up to be successful. That way I've done the majority of the leg work, but if there's something else that I didn't know about people have that opportunity. You know, if you have a situation where you're going to have several people and each person kind of feels like I need this much time, one of the things I might do is say, "Hey everyone, you know like let's say our students annual meeting is coming up. I'm kind of putting together our agenda and our timing, I wanna make sure we can be successful, please give me an idea of about how long you think we need, I'll put all of that together and hopefully we can get everyone the time that they need but I'll absolutely let you know in advance how much time we have." So if there is like clearly a designated meeting leader, it kind of puts you in that position where you can take the lead but still be collaborative. There are a couple of questions. Okay, do you recommend a time limit for meetings, then do you also have recommendations on the number of topics to cover during a meeting? So when Melissa and I were writing this, we had somewhat different backgrounds. She works at the BACB and she runs meetings with their subject matter experts where they may have a two day meeting or a three-day meeting, like all day long. I think it's very difficult to have meetings that are that long. My preference, I find a one hour meeting a sweet spot and a two hour meeting is perhaps a good amount of time for project work. So, for some meetings 30 minutes is good, I think so anchor it to that purpose and then I'm okay with if there are a lot of topics that get briefly covered or topics that get significant coverage as long as it can all happen with the amount of time that we have available. Okay, what if someone shows up at the meeting and asked to add something to the agenda at that time? We get a lot of last minute additions. Well, hey, I'm the behavioral lady and guess what? I do not reinforce those last minute additions, unless there is time so if I know I have a full agenda, I'll say, "Oh, I'm so sorry we already have a full agenda, but what we can do is we could put that on the agenda for next time and if we end up being ahead of the game, we might be able to add it today." And if I know we're not gonna be able to, you know, get everything done today I'll just say, "Oh, so sorry, I didn't know in time to integrate that into the agenda, but let's go ahead and put that on for next time." And smile and respond consistently to everyone the same way. If there is time, I might say, "Oh sure, yeah, that sounds great. Next time if you can give me a heads up when I send out that agenda, that helps me be a little better prepared for when we show up so that I can make sure the meeting goes well." Okay, would you have additional tips when the meeting involves a parent, particularly if there's interpersonal conflict involving a parent or client of some type? Well, yes, I think so, I think it is in fact, a different situation when you are let's say having a meeting that involves a variety of different professionals and a parent and you know, that notion of conflict could be with the parent and one of the professionals, could be between a couple of the parents, I'm sorry, a couple of the professionals and the parent may be what we call triangulated, that is they are more in alignment with one of those people in the conflict than the other, it can go a lot of different ways. I do try to remind everyone and I anchor it to that, what are our purposes? Why are we here? And kind of anchor the purpose as we are here to devote time, energy and effort to collaborating on the education that we have the opportunity to provide for child and you know in doing so I'm kind of setting the stage for we need to be in a position where everybody is remembering that if we get into ego battles this student suffers because suddenly we may no longer be paying attention to that wonderful individual as what matters, we may think we matter. I think it's easy for that to happen. I do think if conflict arises, you know, with the parent or just emotion, you know, maybe the progress has not been what the parent wanted, maybe life is not being what the parent wants, and I think, you know, someone, maybe the meeting leader, or not can be the person to be empathetic but I will say this, I view the role of a leader whether you're the meeting leader, the team leader what have you, as bringing the temperature down in the room. That is as emotions rise a bit, conflict, negativity, distraction from what really matters becomes more common and so knowing who's that really skilled person that can say, Mrs. so-and-so thank you so much for reminding us about what really matters here today, I want everybody to just pause for a moment because like we said, in the beginning the reason we are here is the student's name or what have you so it's like reset it, do it calmly, try to be in a position to thank someone for something directly or indirectly and interrupt what can be that escalation. And, you know if it's painful and combative, I usually try to do what I can ahead of time, prior to that meeting beginning, so that we have a better chance of success in the meeting. Okay. Oh, and I see some more questions and I'll come back to them at the end. So, I do think it's important to leave a few minutes to wrap up the meeting. What I like to do is make sure the notes are accurate and detailed so if I'm the note taker, I'll say, "Okay everyone, here's what I have correct me if I got it wrong or add in if I missed it." Such and so, and we agreed and so-and-so, you said you would do this and blah, blah, blah. We review the action items with the designees that okay, anybody got assigned somebody they didn't expect? If we need to schedule that follow up, do it, if we have a regular meeting, no need and close to allow transition time. When people are running from event to event to event, and this one makes them late for that one makes them late for that one, you can end up where it's like, oh my gosh, you know six hours of the day have gone by and I haven't stood up, gone to bathroom, had a drink a water, caught my breath, and that's really what worsens our workday. So I always feel like if my meeting ends at five minutes to, I just gave someone the gift of stand up, get a cup of tea, just stretch, relax for a moment and clear your head before you can get into that next thing. Another thing that I'm a big fan of is distribute the notes within one to 24 hours, not just before the next meeting because the things we talked about in the meeting and the task assignments in the meeting cannot control other people's behavior if they don't have the notes. And so get those notes together and distribute them as quickly as you can. And if you need to provide private feedback that can be something that you do. And then here's the rest of that checklist after planning the meeting here's conducting or leading the meeting and then your overall checklist. So let's say you're at someone else's meeting. Be on time, stay on time and if for whatever reason, you couldn't get there right on time, do not walk in and interrupt by giving excuses. Walk in quietly, don't create a distraction, apologize to the meeting leader at the end. The other people in that meeting don't need the productivity of the meeting interrupted by your story about traffic, or you spilled something or whatever it might be. If I'm at someone else's meeting, I wanna be as prepared as possible and try to participate professionally, stay on task, don't distract others and do your best to contribute but not dominate, self-monitor if you need to, you know that notion of always allow at least one minute before you jump in with a question or comment, that allows other people an opportunity and follow your leader, look for their clues, cues, instructions, assume that they are behaving purposefully to run that meeting well and follow their lead. If you're meeting leader doesn't know how to run a meeting, I can tell you right now it's going to be more uncomfortable but you still can commit personally to not be disgruntled or a distraction and then when it comes to tasks, remember to volunteer if you can but only if you have the time and required skills. So it's really about knowing your capacity when you go into that meeting. You know as an appendix in this article, we offer several possible rules for meeting participation. We offer nine, what I generally recommend is, you know, if as a group, like let's say you are a school district, or a particular school. Say, hey, let's pick a big three on meeting rules or come up with different ones than these, combine them, or what have you but that notion of like, we're gonna agree on some rules for our meetings and all, try to really live the dream and abide by these. That again, it is an antecedent task, it's that pro act before problems arise, let's do this and that minimizes your need for some of those reactive responses. Now, let's talk a little bit about possible follow-up activity, this is just for you, you decide if you need it. Often we can evolve into a you know, slew of meetings, and some of them are leftover from a time when they were useful, but they're no longer useful. And we've added on some other ones, or we didn't have in the one we needed but for whatever reason, we may find that our current meetings are not as effective as they could be, I think the strategies from this article and training may help you with that, but it could be that you're having too many meetings. Maybe not enough meetings, but probably too many. And it could be that the meetings are at the wrong time. And so what you might wanna think of as part of the continuous improvement process measure and evaluate. You could look at January's meetings in your calendar if you have it, every meeting and give it a rating, one, two or three. One that was a spectacular meeting that knocked your socks off, it was so productive, you wish you could have had it twice. Two, yeah that was an okay meeting, and three no, not my best effort and not someone else's best effort. And then kind of look at, hey, do we wanna start getting at least everything to a two and maybe a few more knock your socks off number ones. Maybe you want a 20% reduction in your meetings, maybe you want no meetings between whatever it is, nine and 11, and you know, 1:30 and three, whatever is your time where you really need to be doing this other things. So, you know, you can assess January, determine your goals, develop your plans, see are there overall rules, roles tools could you share some of this information to others. Develop your plan and implement it. Maybe, you know, to try to meet your goals and see where you get. My guess is if you only get your meetings to be 20% more effective and a 10% reduction in the number of them, it's still gonna feel pretty powerful and positive as a change in your work experience. So, think about whether it could be useful for you,. And if you have multiple people at this training from the same system, school system whatever it might be, you might think about as a school, as a team, do we need to approach our meetings differently? And maybe your next meeting is simply to talk about that, how do we wanna do our meetings from here on out? Okay, we made it with four minutes to spare. So let me start with these two questions, and then if you have other ones pop 'em in here. For this one from Nicole says, do you have any recommendations on effective transition to school meetings? I have been in meetings where a report is read word for word while everyone listens, and then has time to talk at the end, oh, hoping to improve these meetings so they are effective and useful, but not draining or exhausting, thanks again. Yes, okay so I'm not a huge fan of let's read the report in the meeting, if in fact you want people to read the report before the meeting, and then have a few ideas and comments, distribute it 48 hours in advance and then tell them to do that. And so then your meeting agenda item is responses to the report, and in fact what happens is it's like, I'm just gonna give you a two minute summary of this report. (timer beeping) Okay, bladdy bladdy, bladdy bladdy and here's the big point, and we also said this, and if you turn to page six, that gives you a list of the recommendation so just a quick reminder of a few high points and now I'm excited to hear your responses. A timer just really does some fantastic things, and also the expectation. You've read it ahead of time, we're not going to read it in the meeting. Yeah, I might pull my own hair out. (laughing) If I had to be in meetings where, you know, somebody just read. And the thing is like I read before, if you send me materials I'm going to read them before the meeting. And so a funny thing happens now if you're going to read the report in the meeting, you're punishing the behavior of the person who did the right thing. And accommodating the behavior of the people who didn't get their work done. So we're really is kind of setting up those wrong contingencies. Okay, here's another one. Do you have strategies on ways to enhance a team meeting when part of the group is present and part of the group's online making sure people can hear each other especially when you're using a computer. You know, I think that is one of the toughest logistical circumstances. And I have a few ideas but I can't say I have fantastic strategies for you. You know, part of what happens is all the people in the room are looking at each other, engaging with each other, and then the person who's remote kind of falls off of our radar as soon as we start looking around the room and making eye contact which is what people do. So, what I typically do is if most of the people are online, even the people in the room, I'll say go ahead and get online, or I'll project the image of all the others up on the screen. And then of course, others can just mute their computers so you don't get feedback, but it basically shifts the distribution a bit to now these other people, other faces, I do think it's very important to turn on your camera when you're in that circumstance. If someone is online, while others are in the room, the thing is like, they're just not as present as a stimulus in the environment for other people and so at least having your video is going to help that. And then the meeting leader needs to remember to periodically say, "Hey Shelley, just making sure is our audio still good? Anything you wanted to add to that?" Giving that opportunity or chatting into the person that can be helpful. I do also think that projecting that person so they're big in the room. I've been on let's say doctoral committees for people in other countries, other cities and so I may be at my computer on Zoom, but for the people in the room, I'm big on those Linda's big head on the wall and it just like makes it a little harder to forget that the remote person is also present. Okay. - I do see Sue had a question in the chat. She's wondering, would you recommend putting all of the microphones off when doing a parenting group such as incredible years for example and use the raise hand option so that folks don't get caught over-talking including the leader of the group perhaps? - You know, I do like that. You know, Zoom is getting little more interactive. And so if you look at some of your things like in, is it in participants? You can raise your hand, there are ones options where you can clap, or give a thumbs up, or what have you, there's the chat function. I think all of those can be useful, but I will say this once people have their mic off, they are less participative and so when, you know, I do something like that of like okay you need to be muted, well, often do we say, okay everybody, get your chat box open and I'll start with just a few easy questions to get the ball rolling of content in the chat. And then that can become reinforcing, but you can also not look at your chat if you want so I might say something like, okay this is just quick, quick, here we go, I'm gonna say two things and you're gonna chat in which one is yours and it's a left-handed or right-handed and you know, green or purple, what's your favorite color, and it's basically just getting people responding. And then as you come to other response opportunities, you know, the hard thing is like it just increases that latency for people to respond. And so it depends on how large the group is, you know, if we can get to a point where it's four, five, six people, even if you have a dog or a toddler in there, I don't care, I'll be fine with that, you might've heard my little multi pooh, you know, let's just make it easy to interact so I think you make that decision based on the size of the group, how well people know each other, and if it is a larger group where you wanna mute, try to kind of get it rolling on using the chat. Okay, well, I think that's our time, am I right? - And I really just wanted to take a minute as well, Dr. LeBlanc to thank you once again for sharing this information with us. I'm gonna have to get a collection mugs, because every time you present for us, I have a new line that I wanna put on a mug so last time people may remember it was educate a little and collaborate a lot and this time it's the role of the leader is to bring down the temperature in the room. So I really appreciate having those takeaways and I may have a series of mugs on my desktop by the time we get a chance to actually bring you up for a presentation live and in person. - I will love to have those mugs. - We'll see what we can do.
Text Transcript: Planning and Leading Effective Meetings
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