It is a fairly common experience, unfortunately, to leave a meeting and think it was a complete waste of time. It’s always particularly disapointing when there are so many great people present.  It seems like a wasted opportunity.

Whenever I convene a meeting, I take my role seriously. I take the necessary time to design a meeting that can be both productive and pleasant. Below, I’ve shared two tools that may be helpful in planning your next meeting!


  • This tool is helpful when there are several parties with varying perspectives and you want to capture the diversity of ideas.  It is typically used during a brainstorming process.
  • First, provide attendees several sheets of paper, pieces of tape, and a color marker.
  • Next, ask attendees to write down their ideas (for a specific topic or question) – one per paper.
  • Then, instruct attendees to tape the paper on a big wall – trying to place similar ideas close to each other.
  • This tool works because everyone has a chance to express his or her thoughts, the ideas are validated through the posting on the wall, commonalities and differences can be seen, and the focus is on the ideas (not the people).

Sticker voting

  • This tool is helpful when there are a diversity of ideas that many people value and you want to capture how people prioritize these competing values.  It is typically used to transition to decision-making.
  • First, post each idea/theme/component/value on a separate sheet of paper.
  • Second, give each participant the same number of stickers (perhaps 3 – each a different color).
  • Next, advice participants to vote for their top 1, 2, and 3 (represented by the different colored stickers).
  • This tool works because everyone gets an opportunity to share his or her priorities, the votes are captured visually, and the focus is on the ideas (not the people).

What other tools do you use to create a productive and pleasant meeting?  Please leave a comment with your idea!

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