How Can We Get Off This Rabbit Path?

How quite a few conferences have you been to where the meeting subject areas are deserted while an individual goes off on both an unrelated or vaguely similar subject? In the world of meeting facilitation, this wasted time on unrelated topics is generally referred to as a rabbit path since the team gets started hoping from issue to matter and does not get the primary goals of the meeting attained. This can be extremely frustrating for not only the meeting leader but for numerous of the attendees who arrived exclusively for the primary function of the meeting. For powerful conferences, you require all your bunnies in a row at just about every meeting. So what can be accomplished to halt the rabbit trails and provide the group’s emphasis again to the meeting objectives?

There are two straightforward equipment that may well be applied to refocus the group in advance of a rabbit path goes as well far. 1 is to have a composed agenda with timeframes and get everyone’s agreement to that agenda at the starting of the meeting. Once absolutely everyone has agreed to the agenda, you progress with the meeting following the agenda. Then if everyone attempts to provide up a new matter, you can use the technique of pointing to the agenda and politely asking “At the starting of the meeting, we had agreed to adhere to this agenda. I do not understand how what you just reported suits with these subject areas. Can you explain how it relates to me?” Give the person a minute to possibly demonstrate how it relates or concur that it does not relate to the agenda product. If they concur it does not relate then you can return to your primary agenda product. If it does relate, then inquire the group if they want to commit much more time in speaking about the associated merchandise or if they want to make a notice to continue on the discussion in this region at a further time. The team will then make a conclusion which might be applied to revise the present agenda or plan element of an agenda in a foreseeable future meeting.

Applying the agenda is the very best procedure for stopping limited rabbit trails that interrupt pursuing the agreed upon meeting agenda. However, there are occasions during a long discussion item in meetings that make it more challenging to see achievable rabbit trails. In this case, having a substantial published history of what the team has attained consequently much in the dialogue can assistance keep the group targeted and can be applied to bring fascination back again if the group seems to be going yet another path.

When what could be a rabbit trail appears to arise, position to the seen document and ask anything like “At present we are conversing about the XYZ subject, I do not recognize how what you just stated relates to our subject matter. Can you demonstrate how what you stated relates to this subject matter?” Give the individual a minute to either reveal how it relates or concur that it does not relate to the present-day topic. If they concur it does not relate then you talk to if it ought to be positioned on an problems board or parking ton for dialogue at one more meeting. Following the new subject idea is recorded or turned down, you can level to the latest subject matter document, let the group know how a great deal time they have still left on this topic, and then go on your dialogue system. If the new subject matter concept does relate, then make a be aware of the individual’s reviews in the history, ask the team if they want to shell out more time in discussing the relation, or if they feel that noting it in the document is more than enough for now. The team will then make a final decision which can be used to carry on dialogue in the course wanted to carry out the latest meeting objectives.

Applying these two very simple applications and methods should enormously reduce rabbit trails in conferences. The approaches will consider practice and persistence, but right after a while the group will get to in which even separately they will understand when they may possibly be setting up a rabbit trail. Then the folks may well quit on their own right before they get began or the other people in the meeting may well notice the rabbit trail right before it goes much too far and check with the practiced concerns. As you learn to lessen rabbit trails, your meetings will become a lot more effective and you will see your meeting goals attained.


1. Parts of this write-up had been adapted from strategies in the e book “R.A!R.A! A Meeting Wizard’s Method “copyright Shirley Good Lee 2007.

2. For an amusing Meeting Wizard’s view of applying the agenda device, see the YouTube movie “How to Prevent Rabbit Trails in Conferences.”