Check ins are a fundamental ritual in nearly every meeting I am involved in. I use them because:
- Check ins invite presence. The ritual marks the transition from whatever came before the meeting to now, the time together. It allows us to leave our emails, our todo list, our family crisis behind and take a moment to arrive.
- Check ins allow connection. The ritual asks us to show up with a glimpse of what is currently going on in our lives and work, and brings us together as a group beyond the direct purpose of the meeting.
- Check ins make the group visible. By asking everyone in the group to contribute one thought, they build permission to participate, think along and contribute. It shows that the meeting benefits from all voices, not just those in power.
- Check ins set the tone of the meeting. The ritual can be playful or serious, personal or task-oriented, following the impulse of the initial prompt and the mood in the group.
Depending on the size of the group and the length of the meeting, the time of check ins can vary: Most of the time we ask for one word, one thought, a sentence – and sometimes we’ll check in with a short story of a minute or two per person.
At its simplest, a check in is a short round in which all participants contribute. Most of the time, we will use a prompt, for example:
- Let’s do a round: What is your name, and what is one superpower you are bringing to this meeting?
- How are you arriving at this meeting today? What do you need from today’s meeting?
- Complete this sentence: If you knew me really well, you would know that…
- What’s one thing that brought you joy recently?
- In one word: what intention are you bringing to this meeting today?
To deepen the check in, you can use a moment of drawing, journaling or sharing with a partner before opening the round.
Are you using check ins? How are they working for you?
- Amanda Fenton: Questions for check-ins (Blog)
- Hyper Island: Check-In and Check-Out Questions (Toolbox)