Welcome To Our Upstate APA Annual Conference Session Companion Post!

This morning, our team facilitated a session at the Upstate APA Conference in Rochester, New York entitled “This Meeting Could Have Been an Email.” Our objective was to share ideas that make meetings more fun and effective. Below we’ve included more information about the techniques we shared:

For this technique, participants sit in a tight circle, without a table or other object in the middle. It is a great way to begin a meeting, encouraging participants to talk in small/intimate groups before the session starts. When the session starts, we invite participants to discuss specific questions.  We asked the following:

​-Your name?
-Where do you work?
-What drew you to this session?

​And we asked each group to find four things that everyone in the group had in common.

Beneficial outcomes: participants get to know each other, build relationships and trust before being asked to make decisions together.


This technique invites participants to delve into a rich discussion with small groups, which can be brought to the larger group. Participants are asked to reflect individually on a question for one to two minutes. In this case, we asked “When was the last time you felt truly heard in a group setting?” (What was it like? What were the circumstances?). After individual reflection, we asked everyone to pair up and share their answer with the other person. After that we invited the pairs to find another pair and make groups of four or six and repeat the process. Then we gathered into the whole group and asked “What was it like sharing your experience?” “What insights emerged from your conversation?”

Beneficial outcomes: allows for individual reflection, increases “talk time” and encourages discussion of shared experiences.


This is an evaluation technique you can use to improve future meetings. Ask participants what they liked about the meeting (write it down) and then what they would change for next time. This technique is very useful for committees or other groups that meet regularly. It is also an opportunity to prove that you listened to participants by making changes that you can and telling them which changes you made at the start of the next meeting.

Beneficial outcomes: easy and fast evaluation technique that can empower participants and build buy-in on the process. Sometimes just the act of doing this exercise makes future meetings better.

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