Mastermind Group Format: Hotseat

mastermind group format hotseat

Mastermind Group Format: Hotseat

So you have formed a mastermind group, and you’re all ready to go.  What now?  How should the meetings be run?  How does it work?

These are common questions for anybody who is joining their first mastermind group.  They were the same ones I had when I started.  I went through two failed mastermind groups until I finally found a great one.  What made this one a success when the other failed?  It was probably not what you thing… or at least not entirely what you think.   It wasn’t the group dynamic or the level of the participants in the group.  It was simply because this group had a structure.  One of the members of our group had been in other masterminds in the past and told us how to arrange each meeting.  That, to me, made all the difference.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that there is one perfect way to run mastermind meetings that works for everybody in every situation.   A mastermind group for professional athletes may need a different format than a mastermind group focused on entrepreneurship.  But no matter what the goal, and make-up, of your group is it is important to have an agreed upon structure.

In this series we will cover different formats that you can use for your Mastermind groups.  We will start with the most common format, the Hot Seat format.  We’ll then go into some less used methods in the next articles.  You can try some or all the methods with your group to see what works best for you.

Hot Seat Format

This is probably the most common format that is used for mastermind meetings.  The basic premise of a hot seat format is that during that meeting one member of the group gets to present any challenges or idea they have to the rest of the group and the meeting is dedicated to the group discussing and giving feedback about the challenge or idea.   This feedback can be both positive or negative.

The meeting normally starts with the person in the hot seat giving a quick talk about what they would like to discuss. During this time, all the other members should focus simply on listening. If a question occurs during the time the hot seat member is talking then you should just right it down and let them finish.  Do not interrupt them.  In some groups, they actually ask the person in the hot seat to send out an email with the hot seat topic a few days before the meeting, so that the rest of the group has time to think.  That is great if people have time to do this, but it is not necessary.

There are only two kinds of people in the world not worth giving feedback to.  Those who are perfect and those who are not worth the effort.

P.S. Nobody is perfect.

Once the presentation is over, the real fun begins.  The rest of the group can then start asking questions, giving feedback or presenting alternatives to the topic.  This part of the meeting should be, and is meant to be, more unstructured.  The discussion should be free flowing and lead to new, and many times, unexpected takes on the idea that may help either define it, or redefine it.  Two key things to look out for in this part of the are:

  1. Don’t get too far off track. 
    It is easy, when ideas, are flowing to end up on a totally unrelated topic.  If you have a facilitator role assigned in your group it is their job to help control this.
  2. Make sure there is a record of what is being said. 
    Sometimes the ideas and comments come shooting out so quickly that the person in the hot seat can’t catch them all.  Make sure you either have a secretary role assigned to the meeting, or to make sure it is being recorded so that it can be played back.
  3. Don’t be shy.
    The whole point of the hot seat mastermind group is to get different points of views and possibly open up new possibilities, so don’t be afraid to share any thought or idea you have with the person in the in the hot seat.  Some people get intimidated, especially if they are new to the mastermind group, thinking that their feedback may not be useful and that the person in the hot seat is the expert on the topic (i.e. already knows everything).  That is almost never the case, and even if the person is an expert, it sometimes takes a novice to see something an expert overlooks.
  4. Don’t be afraid to give negative feedback.
    One very important factor hear is that the every member of the group be comfortable getting feedback from the rest of the group.  This is most important with negative feedback (since as far as I know nobody gets offended by people saying “I love that idea“).   In order to help, each member should make sure that any feedback they give is constructive and that you are able to explain a reason for the negative feedback.  Just saying “that’s a dumb idea” and nothing more is useless and offensive.   If you want to learn more about this, check out our other article on how to get over the stigma of negative feedback.

The beauty of a hot seat mastermind group is that you never know where the conversation will take you.  Don’t assume that the challenge that the person in the hot seat this meeting can be answered with a linear answer.  Out of the box thinking and different perspectives are one of the best parts of hot seat mastermind meetings (read article about The Mastermind Slap for an example)

Do you have a mastermind group that use these formats?  How is it working?  Or do you use another format?  Use comment section below or use the contact us page to let us know!

READ MORE:  Check out the next article in this series: Accountability Group Format.

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