Dialog mapping

Do your meetings suffer from lack of focus, arguing, drifting off topic, and private agendas? If not, please share with all of us how you manage.

Dialog mapping offers one way to help keep meetings focused and moving forward. I have taken an interest in it, and I can foresee using it during meetings with clients, not just to take notes for my own use, but also to help the clients reach a consensus on what messages they really want to get across.

Dialog mapping is not the same as sentence diagramming, something I never had any use for. Neither is it just a form of meeting facilitation. Unlike a facilitator, the dialog mapper is usually not leading the meeting, but is acting as a scribe whose notes can be seen by everyone in the meeting. Through a web meeting such as WebEx or Zoho Meeting, it is possible for the mapper to work remotely and have the computer screen activities visible to others.

Some people who practice dialog mapping are skilled graphic artists who make hand sketches in front of the meeting room. But for those of us who are less graphically inclined, there is a free program, called Compendium, that allows complex maps to be drawn with little artistic skill.

The value of dialog mapping is that it treats everyone’s input in the meeting equally and objectively. If people have agendas or special interests, those views are noted on the map and discussion is freed to move on. If people ramble off topic, it becomes clear quickly either through unimportant nodes being posted to the map or by the mapper having to ask for clarification about how the current topic should be represented in relation to the other meeting notes.

Contact me if you would like help improving your meetings using dialog mapping. I offer a free consultation to your next meeting between now and May 1.