The Essential Guide to Doing Transition. The Essential Guide to Doing Transition. - Page 16

Your first meeting

Your first meeting is really important. It will set the tone, and the culture, of how your group will work together. The aim is to get your group off to a good start, agreeing what you’re all here to do, finding out about each other, establishing how you will work together, becoming friends. Some groups try to get on with doing things really fast, but often come unstuck later so let these early stages take a bit of time. This will give you a solid foundation to build on.

There are a few things you’ll need to do in advance of the meeting:

• Invite those who are going to attend: give some thought to who should be there, and, so far as it’s possible, try to get as much of your community’s diversity in the room as you can

• Choose a venue: somewhere comfortable, that doesn’t exclude anyone (whether through accessibility, religious or cultural reasons, or inaccessibility for those dependent on public transport)

• Appoint a facilitator: it’s important to get into the habit of having a facilitator. This role can rotate, but for the first meeting, make sure someone knows they will be taking the role

One of the keys to good meetings is to open and close them successfully. So here are some ideas for your first meeting, as well as some suggestions for how to open and close them well.

Opening: Start with a check-in.

Start your meeting with a go-round where everyone speaks, uninterrupted, for a couple of minutes. They should introduce themselves, talk about how they are, what’s happening in their life. You could also ask everyone, once they’ve done that, to reflect briefly on something they are grateful for at the moment or something they love about living in this place. Starting in this way sets the culture that we meet as friends who care about each other rather than as colleagues with an agenda to speed through. It really makes a difference.

It can also be useful to appoint 3 ‘Keepers’:

A Keeper of the Time: whose role is to keep the meeting to time, to allocate times to different items and to make sure everything finishes on time

A Keeper of the Record: who keeps a record of the meeting, whether as minutes, a mindmap, or in whatever format the group feels would be useful

A Keeper of the Heart: whose role is to pay attention to the group’s energy and dynamics, to point out when any intervention might be needed due to low energy levels, underlying tensions or other issues that might emerge and affect the smooth running of the group.

The body of the meeting:

You could do all sorts of things during the meeting itself:

Get to know each other, find out more about why each person is here and their hopes for the Transition group.

Develop a shared understanding of Transition.

Decide what area you want your Initiative to cover.

Find out what skills people have and other groups they may be linked to

Understand each other’s ways of dealing with stress: see our activity here <Link>

If you have a programme of events planned, involve people in helping with these - it’s good to do some things together to find out how you work as a team.

Actively develop the group, its relationships, understanding and ways of working.

Take time to get to know each other. It is the relationships that you form that are a key part of what is going to keep you going through the rough patches, when there are disagreement and things maybe aren’t going very well.

Have a look at our activity sheet 'Inner Transition activities for meetings <Link>' which has some great, very practical exercises for bringing depth and energy to your meetings.

Closing: Make time to reflect on the meeting

It is good to get into the habit of making time at the end of your meeting to reflect on how it went and what worked, as well as what didn’t work? What could be done better next time? Without it, there is no way to pick up if people are feeling excluded, frustrated or confused. It also creates a space to thank those whose good work made the meeting go well (see ‘Stages of Group Life’ above).

You might also need:

Tea

Biscuits/cake

Flipchart paper and pens

A laptop for taking notes

Some way of keeping time

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