It’s your meeting: you set the rules

In the average yoga class, people arrive on time, know why they’re there and are willing to follow instructions. Pretty basic.  So why aren’t business meetings like this?

It’s more likely participants arrive late, are unsure why they’re attending and become easily distracted.

Here are three tips for setting ground rules that lead to an efficient meeting that runs on time.

Set boundaries that help you do your best work
Some yoga teachers are happy for students to arrive late to class. I personally find that late arrivals disrupt my teaching, and I ask my students to respect that. Setting that ground rule means that everyone can enjoy a great class, including me.

Think about ground rules that others in the meeting would want
When I ran How to run great meetings at Engineers Australia almost everyone said they felt uncomfortable asking someone to stop talking during a meeting, especially if they were senior in age, rank or technical skill.

Rather than how you feel about it personally, think about the impact on other people.  A ground rule that gives you permission to politely end a colleague’s soliloquy could mean that you finish your meeting on time, get through everything on your agenda, and make others in the meeting happy that their time is not being wasted.

Let people know your rules in advance – and agree to them
Think about the ground rules you’d like in place to make your next meeting a success.  Perhaps you want participants to turn their mobile phones off, stay until the end, and come up with one action to do before the next meeting.

Before the meeting begins, ask your colleagues if they’ll agree to your ground rules.  You can’t assume that everyone values the same meeting behaviours so ask if they’ll agree to your suggestions. Their permission will help you to feel confident about keeping them in line.

It’s your meeting, so you need to feel confident that you can do your job and get the group to the intended outcome.

How to run great meetings is available as a one-hour workshop to help your team, organisation or group understand the qualities of a good meeting, the skills to make them happen effectively, and the confidence to put those skills into practice. Email me for more information.

What can yoga teachers teach engineers about running great meetings?

The meetings I attended as a civil engineer were not great meetings.  Half the attendees arrived late; many left early; and most didn’t even know why they were there. They wasted time for everyone attending and cost the company money.

Good meeting v average yoga class
Consider an average yoga class:

1. Everyone comes on time
2. People know why they’re there
3. They go to the right place
4. Yoga students pay attention and follow instructions
5. Everyone closes out the class with a pause and some reflection Continue reading “What can yoga teachers teach engineers about running great meetings?”

Co-creating sustainable health systems

Things are a-changing in health care

With an ageing population and budget contracts, we are seeing a demand for a more co-ordinated approach to primary health care, that gives consumers access to a range of different services in an integrated way; that allows them more responsibility for their own wellbeing; and where health professionals are able to work together for the good of their patients.

The newly formed Primary Care WA took an innovative approach to dealing with this change by asking key leaders from the health sector to collectively determine how to create healthy primary care systems within Western Australia.

They asked Dr Chris Kueh and myself to facilitate a planning session, based on the principles of design thinking.  Continue reading “Co-creating sustainable health systems”

The keys to great facilitation: clowning for presence and connection

“You’ll practice letting go and rediscover spontaneity.”

Clowning for Facilitators is a unique opportunity for facilitators, trainers and educators to differentiate a good facilitator from a great one: someone who is comfortable with themselves, connected to the group, and tuned in to where the discussion needs to go.

Through movement, play and the art of clown we explore how you can use being present in your body to better connect with the people you are working with, and how an understanding of theatrical devices like timing and rhythm help you better manage the energy in the room and the flow of the day.

The art of clown holds surprising learnings for the facilitator. Clown – as presented in this format – lets us develop the intangible but critical aspects to facilitation that are often developed on the job.

Many of us think of clown as silliness and slapstick (which it can be) but there is a much deeper learning enabled by this type of play. We learn to be more comfortable in ourselves (or notice when we are not comfortable), to explore the tensions between doing and being still, and to understand more about how we are with others. We also cover practical performance skills that help with running engaging training sessions, such as timing, using tension in a health way, playing with rhythm and lifting the energy in a room.


For facilitators, teachers and people who lead groups. Places limited to ten.

Who is this workshop for?  Facilitators, trainers, educators and people who work with people – from freelancers to organisations like Department of Water, Challenger TAFE, Powerhouse Museum and Department of Agriculture – have all come along to this workshop and expressed enjoyable, practical, professional learning.

“It was valuable to take myself out of traditional facilitator type training and try something new.”

“A great and valuable experience – you learn so much about yourself through small games and activities with other people.” (Janni, Meld Studios, Sydney)

“Most valuable for my professional life was widening the possibilities for leading facilitation, and finding links between theatre and work.” (Andrew Botros, Expressive Engineering, NSW)

“I will remember to say committed to my audience/client needs, listening deeply and engaging to find creative solutions.” (Kate, performer, NSW)

“Tell future participants they’ll find room to play and discover themselves in a supportive, open environment.” (Dominique, Meld Studios, Sydney) 

“I’ll be making room for stillness and allowing people to come to conclusions without telling them how to get there.” (Gemma, Facilitator at Scitech, WA)

“The most valuable thing for my professional life was watching the group form and doing things easily, not the hard way”.
(Beth, Disabilities Services Commission)

“A highlight was thinking more consciously about how it feels to be an audience member and how I can reflect on this experience as a facilitator.” (Jacqui, Challenger TAFE)

“In the future I’ll be more relaxed and self-aware…” (Diana, Life without Borders)

“I loved it.”
(Kate Raynes-Goldie, lecturer at Curtin University)