Summarize Group Consensus after each Decision Point during a Meeting

Meetings are a necessary part of working in any team- they give us the chance to share information, to reach decisions and to get jobs done. But meetings have another important function, which is often forgotten about – group maintenance, that is, how did people feel and how will this affect morale and team cohesion.

A good meeting not only gets work done, but also involves, supports and empowers the participants, creating a high level of energy and enthusiasm. A sense of community and connection to fellow team members is the basis for successful team work and social change. Good facilitation will help you to achieve all of this.

Many teams will discuss things ten times longer than they need to unless a facilitator helps them to recognize they’re basically in agreement. Summarize a consensus position, or ask someone in the group to summarize the points of agreement, and then move forward.

Some teams feel strongly about reaching consensus on issues before moving ahead. If your team is one of them, be sure to read a good manual or book on consensus decision making. Many teams, however, find that voting is a fine way to make decisions. A good rule of thumb is that a vote must pass by a two-thirds majority for it to be a valid decision. For most teams to work well, they should seek consensus where possible, but take votes when needed in order to move the process forward.

Summing-up: When you finish a point or a part of the meeting process, sum up what was done and decided, and pause for questions and comments before moving on. Learn to “feel out” how long to pause — too short, and people don’t really have time to ask questions; too long, and folks will start to get uncomfortable from the silence. Summarize and move forward.

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