Templates Updated on: 17 November 2020

Use a meeting parking lot to keep meetings on track

meeting parking lot

Highlights

Meetings can veer off-topic very easily as team members raise additional questions that weren’t on the agenda. While it’s likely the additional topics are important, they will throw the discussion in a new direction. Suddenly the hour is up and you’ve got nowhere.

Want to know the easiest way to stay on track?

Create a meeting parking lot and park those wayward discussions until next time.

It helps keeps meetings focused, make everyone feel heard, while not discounting important ideas or questions.

What is a meeting parking lot?

A parking lot is designed as a space to leave comments, discussions or questions that are not related to the current meeting’s agenda. You can also use it to record topics that you don’t have time to cover in the current meeting.

By putting these off-topics items to the side, you are not ignoring them, but ensuring they will be dealt with later. Placing these parked ideas in a visual parking lot allows you to easily pull them into the agenda for another time.

Why is it important to have a meeting parking lot?

With so many teams working remotely, it’s more important than ever to create an online agenda for your remote meetings. Using an online collaborative meeting agenda on Conceptboard allows everyone to contribute to the agenda, which drives transparency and inclusiveness. It also makes it easy to park items, then drag them into the agenda for the next time.

Using a parking lot template

A meeting parking lot template is a facilitation tool that you can use during meetings or workshops to capture unrelated topics. But, the template takes it a step further with a matrix that can help you identify actionable next steps. Combine it with the meeting minutes template for a comprehensive summary of a meeting.

The template has two main sections:

Topics under discussion

This is where you invite team members to add their unrelated topics onto sticky notes for further discussion.

Matrix

Divided into four quadrants, the matrix is ranked on ease of implementation vs improvement value. Therefore you should move ideas into one of the four quadrants titled: Look for Opportunities to use, Keep on the radar, Consider later and Do not consider.

Those sticky notes that need to be followed-up on should be turned into action items and assigned to someone. You can also give a due date, such as the next meeting, to report back on progress. This way instead of finding answers then and there, you can keep focused on the task at hand.

If your team has a tendency to go off-track, adding a parking lot to your meetings or workshops can help you stay on topic without losing important ideas. 

We’ve got lots more ideas to help you maintain control of remote meetings on our blog: Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Communication: A Guide for Remote Teams and 6 easy ways to increase participation in your next virtual meeting.

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