Using the Kolb Learning Cycle for facilitating meetings

David Kolb identified a cycle of experiences which everyone goes through as they perceive and process information. Although it was developed as a model of learning, it is also a useful model to aid you in communicating effectively in presentations, reports and emails. You can also use it as a process for facilitating meetings. The four steps in the cycle are:

• Why - what are my reasons for doing this?
• What - am I clear about what’s required?
• How - how do I do it?
• What If - now I’ve done it, what sense can I make of it?

Why – do this from the other’s perspective. Use ‘You’ language rather than ‘I’. You are aiming to answer the question ‘What is in this for the person on the receiving end of my communication?’

What – keep this to a minimum, i.e. outline only the amount of information that the recipients need to act. Hence the emphasis on relevant facts. It is useful to document the goal, agenda and output on e.g. a flip chart, and display them, so that they are constantly in group memory.

How – this is about doing. Hence this is the point where you outline a procedure or process rather than giving people choice. In terms of meetings make sure that there is action e.g. so rather than simply discuss an agenda topic, you have an agreed output to achieve.

What if? - this is an opportunity to plan thoroughly, draw up contingencies and handle exceptions.

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