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Perfect Meetings Part III: Parking Lot and Q&A sessions

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Now that your meeting is good to go, let’s talk about a tip that is sure to make your conversations stay on track. In this blog, we talk about what is referred to as ‘The Parking Lot’, ‘The Cooler’, or ‘Topic Bin’.

What is the parking lot?

In a collaborative conversation, it is normal for attendees to ask questions that are not always covered in the agenda. Raising doubts during meetings is to be expected but not every question can or should be answered at that specific moment, especially if it results in the meeting going off tangent. Either there were other items on the priority list or it didn’t adhere to the agenda. When these deviations happen, the speaker can always steer the conversation back on track with the help of the parking lot. In such cases noting or ‘parking’ the questions will enable their discussion at the end of the meeting. This is referred to as the Meeting Parking Lot. Parking lots ensure that the meeting is on track while prioritizing concerns that arise. Sometimes, there are questions that cannot be answered immediately or requires a Subject Matter Expert’s expertise (SMEs). These questions can also be added to the ‘parking lot’.

Just before a meeting, a parking lot should be ‘constructed’, either on a whiteboard or on paper. One of the attendees (preferably from within the company hosting the meeting) can be assigned as a ‘valet’ to take down questions that digress from the meeting agenda and ‘park’ it in the assigned space to be tackled at the end of the meeting. Attendees can also note down the questions themselves if need be. 

Questions that are in the parking lot should be addressed at the end of the meeting and categorized into issues that need to be addressed immediately, or questions that can be addressed in the near future, or those that do not require any action.

When used effectively, this tool can be a boon for meeting productivity. There may be important questions that arise during meetings but not directly related to the agenda or those that cannot be answered by other participants due to various reasons. Instead of dismissing these concerns, discussing them, later on, will provide value to attendees as well as the company while allowing the meeting to proceed as planned and on time. Adhering to the time limit is imperative as most attendees at event meetings have multiple such sessions scheduled.

Q&A session

Jumping onto the next step – Question and Answer (Q&A) sessions. Meeting attendees either dread them or love them depending on their experience. Although question and answer sessions are notorious for going above the time limit, if implemented in the right way can enhance the productivity of the session significantly.

A Q&A session is generally reserved for the end of the meeting to clear doubts and tie up loose ends. Queries or thoughts that were in the parking lot can also be addressed. 

In order to organize a fruitful Q&A session, certain measures need to be put in place. Firstly, meeting managers must allot a specific duration of time (ideally 1/4th of the entire duration of the meeting) to address them at the end of the meeting. Additionally, a great Q&A session is one that is moderated and one that is interactive. Certain meetings also have a slot for these sessions mid-meeting but this is entirely optional.

If there are certain questions that are anticipated prior to the commencement of the meeting, managers can collect them from the attendees by making a prior announcement. 

A well organized Q&A session can be the highlight for attendees and is a tell-tale sign of a successful meeting.

More meetings drive more revenue. All B2B enterprises rely on strategic meetings to help advance their sales cycles and close deals. Meetings, if organized correctly can help promote business goals more effectively than any other tool. Many managers today rely on obsolete tools such as emails and spreadsheets to organize, manage, and analyze their meetings which are detrimental to the effectiveness of these sessions. Opting for intuitive software such as a Meeting Automation Platform can enhance the productivity of meetings manifold. To know how to take your meeting productivity to the next level, schedule a demo today.

  1. […] were discussed – highlights, decisions made, future plans, resolving issues, questions in the parking lot, and so on. This document exists to provide an overview of the meeting for review as well as for […]

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