Start EVERY meeting with a “Check In”


A meeting is a just another form of communication. Most communication, fully 94%, is made up of ritual and affect. Where people sit in a room (think ‘head of the table’), how we great each other tells us a great deal. Cultural differences in these AND language trip us up but only 6% of communication is the actual words. In order to conduct effective meetings, where quality communication happens, a 5-step process is recommended. Once it becomes the ritual in your organization, capacity is unleashed.

STEP 1: Start with a “Check In”

The check in is conducted at the start of every meeting. Its purpose is to improve communication, get focused, calibrate the agenda, act as a “time accordion” AND to help everyone in the room reset their autonomic nervous system from the “fight or flight” state they were just in fighting traffic to get to work on time to “rest and digest” If you want the best from participants, taking the time for a check-in will make a huge difference:

The components of check in are:

  • Name – Saying or hearing one’s name releases the endorphin oxytocin, the hormone of belonging
  • “Internal weather” – How are people really feeling?
  • Time constraints – If someone needs to leave early or keep an eye on the phone, let everyone in the room know so this behavior isn’t interpreted as disrespect or worse.
  • Who is missing? – do they need to be here to get our agenda accomplished or should we re-calibrate the agenda?
  • Celebrations – Anyone’s kid win their game over the weekend? Anyone have an anniversary coming up? Anyone’s band have a great gig over the weekend? More oxytocin!
  • Elephants or emergent issues – Is there something in the way of accomplishing what you hope to accomplish at the meeting? Invite it in straight away and find a time to deal with it. If not at this meeting, make sure it finds a home. Elephants tromping around without any herding can cause a lot of damage.
  • Reflections – How did the last meeting go? any thoughts come up since?
  • Questions – These are good to capture at the outset and during the entire course of the meeting. After check-in, answering questions is an agenda item.
  • Expectations – Are participants on-board with the agenda? Do we think we can accomplish what we are setting out to? Are we learning and dialoguing? making decisions? both? Be clear about this!

The meeting facilitator can use this handy template: CHECK IN to record participants responses.

Stay tuned for the rest of the steps….