Facilitator/Scribe Training

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Free Geek staff take part in many meetings. Part of our meeting structure is to have one person in charge of facilitating and one person in charge of scribing. This training module is designed to prepare you for the responsibilities of each of these roles so that our meetings can be as productive as possible.

Note: this page is similar to Meeting Tips, but is created as an outline for a training. It is also based on the less formal consensus-style process that is used at most committee and working group meetings.

Intro

This can be adjusted by the trainer based on who is being trained, but it should generally include:

  • Who, where, when, and why we meet
  • What meetings the trainee will probably be attending
  • Why taking and sharing accurate minutes is important (transparency, keeping track of what we decided when, etc.)

General Meeting Guidelines

  • Know your meeting schedule. Meetings that you are signed up for should show up on the Skedjulnator, but you should also check the Perpetual Meeting Calendar for the regular days and times of each meeting.
  • Most meetings have an associated "meeting minder"--an automatically generated email sent out to each attendee one week before a meeting.
  • Most meetings have a wiki page that lists the order of facilitators/scribes (e.g. Volunteer and Community Interface). Check this page to see who is doing what at upcoming meetings.
  • Show up for meetings on time so that we can get started right away.
  • As a general meeting attendee, be prepared by knowing generally what's on the agenda and what discussion items you will be sharing.
  • Have your laptop if appropriate (many meetings don't print out hard copies of agendas and therefore expect you to have a digital version on your laptop).
  • Remember the Consensus process, and do your best to participate actively in making consensus work.
  • Check out these additional Meeting Tips

Facilitating

Several days before the meeting:

  • Make sure you can attend the meeting--if not, find somebody else to facilitate
  • Read last meeting's agenda and minutes
  • Create a draft agenda, including old commits and any discussion items you already know about (Note: many meetings have a specific agenda template with standing discussion items; this should be included in the meeting minder email.)
  • Send out the draft agenda along with a call for more agenda items

The day before the meeting:

  • Add any additional discussion items to the agenda
  • Send out the finalized agenda to all attendees (and a reminder that the meeting is happening)

At the meeting:

  • Call the meeting to order
  • Make sure the scribe is ready to take notes
  • Make sure people have the agenda, and see if there are any last-minute additions
  • Work through the agenda, making sure that discussions are on-topic and brief
  • Make sure that everyone has a chance to share what they need to share (start a queue if necessary)
  • Remind everyone of time constraints, and keep things moving
  • Facilitate the Consensus processing of listing and clustering concerns, addressing concerns, etc.
  • Call for implementation steps when appropriate (who commits to doing what?)
  • Make sure the meeting ends on time

Scribing

Several days before the meeting:

  • Make sure you can attend the meeting--if not, find somebody else to scribe

At the meeting:

  • Have some way of taking notes (usually a Laptop)
  • Have the agenda and incorporate any last-minute items
  • Set up your minutes template (usually copy/paste the agenda into a new email or document and add notes to it)
  • Take attendance, noting late arrivals
  • Record the status on old commits:
    • Done= commit has been completed, and should not be listed on the next agenda
    • Carry-over (c/o)= commit has not been started or finished, and should be listed on the next agenda
    • In Progress (IP)= commit has been started but is not yet finished, and should be listed on the next agenda
    • Killed= commit has not been completed, but the committee decided that it should no longer be done
    • Morphed= commit has changed into some other commit (i.e. another person is addressing the issue in another way)
    • A + sign indicates that the status has remained unchanged for another meeting cycle (e.g. IP+++ means it has been in progress for 3 extra meeting cycles)
  • Take succinct but complete notes on discussion items (highlighting proposal, discussion, and decision where appropriate)
  • Note new commits that come out of discussion items (often denoted with a # before the person's name)
  • Ask the facilitator to stop and clarify whenever necessary (e.g. "How should this be reflected in the minutes?", "Who is committing to that?", etc.)
  • Read your version of decisions aloud to the group to make sure they are accurate
  • At the end of the meeting, record when the next meeting and who is facilitating/scribing

After the meeting:

  • Go through the minutes to clean things up, making sure they make sense to someone who wasn't at the meeting
  • List all new and carry-over commits at the bottom of the minutes
  • Email the minutes out to the attendees as soon as possible, asking for additions and clarifications
  • After additions and clarifications have been sent back (usually wait a couple of days), forward the minutes to the minutes list

See Also