A Magical Meeting Story from Lorraine Margherita, an organization consultant and speaker based in Paris, France.
Welcome to Magical Meetings Stories, a series where I chat with professional facilitators, meeting practitioners, leaders, and CEOs across industries about their meeting culture. We dive deep into a specific magical meeting they’ve run, including their approach to facilitation design, and their tips and tricks for running meetings where people thrive.
Lorraine Margherita is a speaker, organization consultant, and co-designer of collective dynamics for governance and performance. I spoke with Lorraine about the Pilot Circle About Empowering Governance, the reason behind it, and her proudest moments from the meeting.
Lorraine’s Pilot Circle About Empowering Governance began as a way to promote remote facilitation to company leaders as they analyze what it means to empower governance in an organization. This meeting introduced Lorraine’s colleagues to the concept of meeting virtually and the online tools that make remote sessions possible.
In this particular meeting, Lorraine and her co-facilitator designed a three-hour session for six participants from various organizations. The Pilot Circle About Empowering Governance began as a pilot meeting that would be the first of several subsequent sessions. During this meeting, Lorraine invited team members to create a conversation, practice the meeting framework, and explore the concept of empowering governance.
Let’s take a closer look at Lorraine’s process to learn what made this meeting magical.
In a Pilot Circle About Empowering Governance, the facilitator discusses empowering governance with C-suite members and other stakeholders as they discover more about meeting remotely.
In this meeting, the facilitator will select the following:
- 3 hours
- A facilitator
- A co-facilitator or consultant
- Six participants
- Microsoft Teams
- Drawing a company as a human body
- A framework for remote meetings
- A sketch
- Insights for improvement
This particular meeting was attended by leaders, managers of large teams, and some members of the HR department.
Plan the Workshop:
Before the session begins, the facilitator should prepare the following:
- The Mural Whiteboard
- The diagram for the sketch
- The First Section
- The Second Section
The facilitators can begin preparation by holding meetings with each other to organize the agenda, allocate time for activities, and curate participant interactions.
Before beginning the Pilot Circle About Empowering Governance, Lorraine and her consultant met several times to plan for the session. Lorraine used Mural to complete much of the preparation for the upcoming Pilot Circle session, which included:
- Setting the objective
- Identifying the target audience
- Designing each section
- Time the activities
Lorraine believed investing time and energy in the planning process was instrumental in helping the meeting members feel comfortable with remote sessions:
“That’s probably the most important thing that made the meeting possible, to see that it is possible to work online if you give a certain amount of time and preparation to the meeting.”
Lorraine then selected the meeting participants by contacting leaders in local companies to ask them to join the pilot session.
The First Section
The facilitators start the first section of the Pilot Circle About Empowering Governance with a 10-minute introduction to welcome everyone. At this time, facilitators introduce Mural and Microsoft Teams and ask participants introductory questions.
The facilitators then explain the intention of the meeting, what they’re doing, and what they hope to achieve in the Pilot Circle meeting.
The inclusion portion of the Pilot Circle focuses on setting the tone for the meeting. Facilitators should shape the way participants feel, how they interact, and their experience using online tools.
Then the facilitators spend five minutes sharing the rules of meeting remotely and working on Mural. The next 20 minutes are spent discussing empowering governance.
In her meeting, Lorraine asked participants to express how they felt about empowering governance. After explaining the concept, team members discussed if they were comfortable, not comfortable, enthusiastic, or doubting everything that leads to empowerment.
During this part of a Pilot Circle session, the facilitators introduce the activity: sketching the company as a human body. Participants will break out in pairs, using Mural to draw their company as a human body.
In this activity, participants sketch out the body and include their interactions, roles, and responsibilities within the company as part of the human body.
In Lorraine’s meeting, she and her co-facilitator created the human body whiteboard during the preparation portion. Once each pair completed their drawing, they presented them to the group and discussed others’ reactions and perceptions of the work:
“They shared a few questions on what it was saying about their company, what it was saying about themselves, what it was saying about other companies, so that was pretty interesting.”
Facilitators and team members take a ten-minute break before the second section begins.
The Second Section
The second section of the meeting is about feedback. The facilitators start the session by discussing different ways to handle feedback. Participants then pair up and spend the next 15 minutes practicing how to handle feedback.
In the end, the group comes together to discuss their experience. The facilitators close the Pilot Circle by giving everyone the opportunity to share their thoughts and feelings.
Lorraine’s team used Teams’ breakout rooms to answer questions and share feedback on their interaction and behavior from the first half of the workshop.
During the final moments of the meeting, team members came back together to discuss the flow, pain points, and areas that each person could protect or improve.
Lorraine’s Pilot Circle About Empowering Governance exists as a standalone meeting. Though the Pilot Circle was initially designed to be a series of meetings, it ultimately resulted in a singular session:
“The concept was good, but the collaboration was unbalanced…There was a lack of balance between what I was providing and what my peer was providing… It’s sad to say that it was a unique meeting in the sense that it was unique, it happened only one time.”
Despite the fact that the Pilot Circle didn’t expand any further, Lorraine considers it a success. Both facilitators set out to demonstrate the effectiveness of online meetings and Lorraine’s Pilot Circle About Empowering Governance did just that.
“The goal that we had was actually achieved. The people left the meeting, thinking, ‘I didn’t know it was possible to have such a great meeting online,’ and they realized it was possible, and they also realized how much work it is.”
When asked about the potential pitfalls of the meeting, Lorraine discussed the challenges of transitioning to a remote meeting infrastructure. Most of her clients and colleagues in local companies weren’t familiar with tools such as virtual whiteboards like Mural. For this reason, she believed that ample preparation time is essential to ensure that all participants feel comfortable navigating the world of remote facilitation.
I asked Lorraine what meeting moment made her the proudest and she shared one of the session’s highlights:
“The people we invited had never been part of such a meeting. They had no idea that you could spend three hours being productive online. They had no idea what you could do with a whiteboard, how far you could go, or how you could translate visual tools into a virtual meeting. They had no idea how well you can listen to one another when you’re not in the same space and connected only via a computer and a camera.”
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