IAF Methods

Designing a Meeting Outline

by for . Last edit was over 2 years ago
120 - 120 3 - 10

This is a framework for the initial step to prepare for a meeting, i.e. to build the client relationship, to identify objectives and desired outcomes, to design the meeting process and environment.

DRAFT Pending Declined
Submit for approval

Additional info


To prepare for a meeting collaboratively with the client.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • Works sheets and examples are useful
  • flipchart and markers



Time needed: up to 2 hours of meeting time with the client, and 2 hours for the facilitator to document the results

Ideal conditions: A few weeks to a few months before the meeting is to happen.

Type of Facilitator-Client Relationship: Where the client is willing to work with the facilitator to create the meeting design.


I. The three meeting types

A. Type One - Decision Making

  1. Sub-type 1 - Buy into an existing proposed decision
  2. Participate in Decision Making

B. Type Two: Information Exchange br>

  1. Sub-type One: Giving information
  2. Sub-type Two: Receiving Information
  3. Gathering information

C. Type three: Social Meetings

  1. SubType One: Networking
  2. Sub Type Two: Ceremonial / Symbolic

II. Basic Meeting Preparation Process

A. The Contracting Process

B. The Audience / Participant Analysis

  • Why the participants were invited
  • What is their history together
  • What issues are they bringing to the meeting?
  • How can extraneous issues (issues not related to the topic(s) of the meeting be dealt with?

C. Building the Agenda with the Design Team

  1. List Topics
  2. Determine Type of Topic (Information Sharing, Decision Making or Social)
  3. Decide the Products for each Topic based on the type
  4. Create a Reasonable Sequence of Products

D. Determine Venue or type of venue.

  1. Considerations about the Space of the Venue: Location, decor, seating, and meeting rooms
  2. Considerations about Time: Dates, pace, schedule, and free time
  3. Decide on Equipment: Whiteboards, flipcharts, markers, paper, computers, overheads, etc.
  4. Decide on any Special arrangements: food, handicapped, religious (prayers), Social, etc.

III. Detailed Sequencing of Events

A. Considerations for Designing the Opening

  1. Getting acquainted
  2. Raising the question or issues of the Meeting
  3. Getting involvement: participation, purpose, sponsorship / champion, logistics, etc.

B. Deciding the Inputs to the Meeting

  1. Pre-program inputs
  2. Information input: reports, background information, etc.
  3. Decision making inputs: issue / opportunity, boundary conditions, time frame, etc.
  4. Social inputs: type, culture, symbols, rituals, story, etc.

C. Review Decision making elements

  1. Level of effort: resources, risks, etc.
  2. Importance vs. Urgency
  3. Reasonable discussion / decision making time

D. Wrap-up

  1. Decide Closing Products
  2. Goodbyes

IV. Refinements

A. Time: Ask the hard questions about feasibility

  • Fixed items first, guest speakers scheduling, meals, breaks, etc.
  • Can we actually do this in the time allotted?
  • What is essential (we can't leave the meeting without).
  • What if we have to drop something? What is the least essential and socially acceptable?

B. Designing Space

  • What decor must we bring? Music, gifts, toys?
  • What facilities do we need beyond the normal conference facilities?
  • What material do we need?
  • What equipment do we need to produce the end products (printers, computers, web access, networks, photo copiers, overhead projectors, software, etc.)

C. Venue

  • What is the actual time and length of meals? (e,g, a 3 course meal takes more than 45 minutes.)
  • How flexible is the venue about making changes during the program?
  • Are there special diets that have to be considered?
  • Are there other special needs like translation?

D. Surprises (eventfulness) [Making people comfortable]

  • Toys, puzzles, games, etc. on side table
  • Foods, fruit, ice cream, chocolate bars, gummy bears (candy)
  • Surprise music
  • Handouts (Hats, shirts, gifts, etc.)


Follow-Up Required: Check signals about arrangements. Do the program.

Usual or Expected Outcomes: An agenda with topics, topic types, time, deliverables, products, processes and person(s) responsible.

How success is evaluated: Meeting reaches its goals and produces the products.


Source: Maureen and Jon Jenkins

History of Development: This was developed for Shell International Exploration and Production for their Drilling the Limit Team.

Comments (0) (  avg / 0 ratings)

Please Log in or Register for FREE SessionLab account to be able to comment or rate.