Glossary of Meeting Terms: invitation for feedback

Hello All!

I may have mentioned to some of you that our team was building out a glossary of meeting terms. We finally have a first rough draft ready for review.
Glossary of Meeting Terms

The glossary includes resource links and brief definitions from a practitioner’s perspective for:

  • Basic meeting terms, like quorum and consensus
  • Types of meetings, like strategic planning and discovery
  • Techniques, like the Lotus Blossom Technique and the KJ Method
  • Dysfunctions, like lack of participation and dominance
  • Technology, like video conferencing and decision support systems

We created the glossary for three reasons.

  1. We found that our customers sometimes needed help understanding meeting terms.
  2. We needed a handy way to save reference links that we share frequently. Basically, it’s like my team’s shared bookmark list.
  3. Search engines love pages like this. Definitions make Google happy.

This is 100% totally not at all an academic exercise (which I’m sure you’ll find obvious very quickly:) That said, we’re working towards definitions that are both approachable and accurate and would love to link to more technically correct material where appropriate.

Please take a look and let me know what you think. Do you have a really great link we should add to a term? (We include credit for all external links). Is there a term we absolutely need to get in here? Did we get a definition wrong? I’m eager to improve it.

Looking forward to your thoughts!


Wow, what a fascinating piece of work! I never thought it could be fun to just read through a glossary. Thanks for sharing! I have not yet worked my way through all the terms but I saw that under “Consensus” you say

Many people believe that consensus is the same thing as unanimous agreement, but this is not necessarily the case.

I agree with this but I thought readers might be curious to know how consensus actually differs from unanimity: Unanimity is when everybody agrees. Consensus is when nobody disagrees.

I found it interesting to learn about the 5 second rule and it occurred to me that it may also be a tool for consensus decision making to help bring about better consensus decisions (where “better” means providing more opportunity for dissent to be voiced).

Just my 2 cents.

Nice refinement, Christoph. Added and thank you, including the link to the forum topic!

Several of the techniques in here can help groups achieve consensus, and we learn more all the time. It’s amazing how much stuff is out there. The 5 Second Rule came from a leader who realized that people often get focused on getting through the meeting efficiently, and go so quickly there’s never an opportunity to even reply. It’s really a reminder to the leader that if they want an answer, they should shut up and give people a chance to provide one. :slight_smile:
Another very simple technique that works nicely in the consensus process is the Vote-Discuss-Revote technique. I learned that from some facilitators who specialize in corporate executive teams and hope I can find a link with more details soon.

I like to reply on some of the terms.
An Agenda should alos include Expected Outcome for each topic/task.

Facilitation is NOT a process. It is a facilitative leadership.

Facilitator is a role using Facilitation in her/his leadership.
Anyone with skills in facilitation can lead in this role.

A process a set of interrelating or interacting activities producing the outcome of e.g. an meeting.

Meeting is a process.

I like to add Meeting Content and Categories of Resources to the list

Hi Krister,

Thanks for the feedback!

I agree that an expected outcome per topic helps for many meetings and have added a bit about that to the definition.

I think this may just be a poor verb choice, as I can see how “process” implies a prescribed series of steps. That definition was weak - I’ve tweaked the verb and added a few of the IAF core competencies to help flesh out the definition. Facilitation | Lucid Meetings

Great! Can you elaborate a bit more? Is Meeting Content meant to include the literal artefacts and topics, or is it simply in contrast to context and participants? And I’d love more details on Categories of Resources.

We heard from this rule’s inventor today. Wayne says he renamed it the “5 Hippopotamus Rule” because if you say silently in your head 1 hippopotamus, 2 hippopotamus… etc you will get 5 seconds. We’ve added a suitable graphic.

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All meetings are processes describing step by step what people are doing to achieve or exceed the expected outcome. The facilitator (the group leader) is the owner of the process and the meeting participants (the group) are the owner of the meeting content. The task, the issue, the topics, the decisions and the results (outcome) are the contents of the meeting.

To be the owner of the process implies to provide/offer the group with process tools, create a good meeting climate, build consensus around the outcome, etc.

You have group facilitators, network facilitators, facilitative leaders and facilitative teachers using facilitation in the leadership. You can also say that facilitation is a leadership style or way of leading people and groups of people.

I prefer to say that the facilitator constantly use 4 core practices regardless type of meeting. 1. The facilitator uses/ask questions from the introduction of the meeting all the way to the end. Questioning is fundamental in facilitation. The facilitators skills in using questions is the key to success or failure. 2. Active listening, using the body language and paraphrasing are essential to show presence and perceptiveness. 3. Summarise after each moment or step in the process and there are several reasons to summarise, e.g. to keep entusiasm in the group or helping the group to take the right decision. 4. The Facilitator keep away from the responsibility of the group, i.e. the content of the meeting and stick to the process. The facilitator is neutral to the content and lead without ego.

Categories of Resources are 1. People (humans, operators, collaborators and management), 2. Tools and Techniques, 3. Methods (way of working), 4. Material (hardware, software, information) 5. Environment (work environment). These categoreis are found in the second level of the Fishbone Diagram (the Ishikawa Diagram).


May I ask you where you are living. I am living in Stockholm.


Why are techniques and methods two separate categories?

Do hardware tools or software fall under tools, material, or environment?

Can you share a picture of this diagram? (just copy and paste it into the text)

Tools and techniques belongs to the same category. See the attached diagram. You should have at least 18 causes pasted into the diagram. It is important to separate the causes from the symtoms. Working with this process tool is one of the most complex task for a group to do and a challenge for the facilitator.

Consensus does´t mean all are happy and satisfied. Consensus mean you have had people with the right competence in the group and the decisions are based on facts. It also mean that the facilitator has used the right tools right helping the group to take the right decision in a structured way.

Elise, In the definition of meeting you are saying “a meeting has a purpose” without defining the term Purpose. Most people describe the purpose as the task or what the meeting participants are going to du during the meeting. In other words the purpose describe the process. It is much better if the purpose describe the receiver of the outcome of the meeting and the usefulness or the benefit of delivering the outcome to the receiver.

Krister, I don’t really understand the point you are trying to make.

Who said that this is what consensus means?

Who says that this is what consensus means and why?

So if a decision is made by consensus, it is always “the right decision”? And it is always made in a structured way?

That doesn’t answer my question, which was:


Causes and symptoms of what?

I don’t quite see where you are heading with your argument(s)…

I ment "Consensus is NOT designed to make people happy… and 100 percent agreement. It is consensus when the outcome of the meeting represent the best feasible actions from the given circumstances, i.e. competences, tools, … etc. There is no 100 percent “right” decision. The facilitator is building the consensus around the outcome. In the end of the decision process the Facilitator ask the question “Do we have a well-thought-through outcome we all can stand behind or feel committed to implement or can live with”.

A fishbone diagram should not have more than 6 categories. You have to understand the difference between a tool and a technique to use it in the diagram. Therefore I train people to just use “tool” as one of the categories. In my 2-days courses I have trained approximately 2000 facilitators/group leaders in using this tool and other process tools. You are welcome to particape in my courses. The Fishbone Diagram has been used in decades. Read more about Systematic Problem Solving.

I am just sharing with you my 30 years of experiences and knowledge from working in corporations, developing international standards (including definitions of terms), writing 6 books in the area of facilitation, management and leadership, teaching and training leaders and managers, …

I am in Portland, Oregon, which is on the US West coast.

Thank you for all the details. Seeing the definitions in the context of a Fishbone Diagram is helpful. I’ve been working this week on a meeting type taxonomy, so haven’t had a chance yet to add these thoughts to the glossary. That’s my task for next week. I’ve recieved 40 more terms from people! Quite the project. I’ll share a link when I have updated terms based on this feedback: thank you so much!

Thanks, Elise, for stating outright that Jenkins’ article is nonsense. It has annoyed me the whole week since it was published and my fingers have been itchich to write a response but this week has been too busy…

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Elise, Did you receive my message a while ago?

Hi Krister,

I did - so sorry for the slow reply. I’m at a big conference in Florida right now and will be back in the office next week. It’s been quite distracting - I’ll be back to all this again once I’m back and am looking forward to the time to get into the discussion more thoughtfully.