The Parking Lot is a really effective meeting tool.  It can help you and your group stay on track.

What is it – a large piece of paper, visible to all, where the meeting facilitator notes down ideas, thoughts, to do’s…..anything really that is not pertinent to the current discussion.

parking lot

When is it used – whenever a meeting participant shares a thought or idea that is obviously important to them but not to current discussion, park the idea/thought in The Parking Lot.

Why is it valuable – It is your chance to acknowledge the comment and to end further discussion.  You can move the discussion on while showing respect to the participant.

How is it used – You can ask “Can we park that idea and come back to it later?”  or “That is important, let’s put that idea in the Parking Lot to be sure we come back to it later.” Most people are happy that their idea has been heard and acknowledged and will bring their attention back to the group discussion. At the end of your meeting come back to the Parking Lot and run through the ideas and decide how and when to handle each one.  Chances are that many ideas/issues will have been handled already.

Try using a Parking Lot in your next meeting.

Have you already used the Parking Lot?  Did it work?  Any tips to share?