Merge's Blog

Use “the parking lot” to manage unexpected or extended issues that arise in your meeting

Often in meetings, unexpected agenda items crop up, or certain topics generate legitimate discussion that go beyond the time frame allotted in the agenda. What should you do when such subjects threaten to take your meeting off track and off schedule?

When unexpected or lengthier issues arise, it’s the chairperson’s job to take control by considering two choices – either get agreement from everyone to adjust the agenda by reducing or eliminating another item, OR send the item being discussed to the “parking lot.” The parking lot is a designated whiteboard or flipchart where outstanding issues are logged, with an understanding that they will be tabled as agenda items at a future meeting. The parking lot approach is a very effective way to keep a meeting moving while still respecting other points of view.

So have you used the “parking lot”? What has been your experience? Or do you take another approach? Please share.

If your meetings aren’t as effective as they could be, here are some other posts that you might find of value:

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