“I wish I knew what participants are thinking as we close the meeting. I’d like to hear not just about the meeting itself and the decisions we’ve taken but also their general thoughts. What can you suggest?”
#2 Once Around the Table
What is Once Around the Table?
Once Around the Table is a simple and powerful technique. It provides participants the opportunity to first reflect and then communicate their thoughts as the meeting comes to a close. This technique usually creates a good sense of closure and completeness to the session. But don’t use it if you think the group will be hostile for some reason or you are running behind schedule. One of the other techniques would be better in those situations.
When to Use Once Around the Table
- When you want to hear opinions from everyone in the room
- When you want the meeting leader to hear the thoughts of others to help him/her prepare their own closing remarks
How to Use Once Around the Table
- Once you have finished all agenda items, briefly summarize what the group accomplished during the meeting.
- Set up the Once Around the Table exercise. Use the chart below as a template for your instructions to the group.
- Give participants 1-2 minutes to reflect individually and silently on the meeting and their impressions of it.
- When the majority of the participants appear ready, start the exercise. You may ask for a volunteer to start or choose someone to start. Since the exercise ends with the leader, you may want to start with one of the participants sitting next to the leader. If you are not a neutral facilitator or the leader, you may also start if you like. Remind the group that they are to share one or two short sentences and that there are no comments, rebuttals or discussion allowed. Participants are only to listen to the comments of others.
- After all participants have shared their reflections, turn to the leader to close out the session.
NOTE: If you are not the leader yourself, please ensure that you have properly positioned the leader so he/she knows that they will close the session and how the exercise will work.
NOTE: Neutral facilitators do not usually offer their reflections unless this is agreed with the leader in advance.
Once Around the Table is a great technique that allows you to hear from everyone as the meeting closes.
- Briefly summarize what the group accomplished during the meeting.
- Set up the Once Around the Table exercise.
- Give participants 1-2 minutes to reflect individually.
- Start the exercise.
- Turn to the leader to close out the session.
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