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Check-In and Check-Out Questions

Purpose: Check-in and check-out processes are fundamental to the work we engage in, and set the context for what we actually do. The shaping of questions in a thoughtful, purposeful and intentional manner increases the likelihood of them being powerful. Checking-in/out invites each member in a group to be present, seen, and heard. Checking-in emphasizes presence, focus, and group commitment; checking-out emphasizes reflection and closure. Here are some questions to inspire you.

  1. Step 1:

    Managing time is crucial for running effective meetings. As the session leader or facilitator, you can introduce different constraints to a check-in to allow for more or less time. Examples are:

    • “In one word…”
    • “In two words…”
    • “In one sentence…”
    • “Think of three things…”
    • “Taking as much time as you need…”

    Facilitator notes

    Check-in and check-out processes are not trivial time wasters in our meetings. If they feel that way, something is either missing or needs to be adjusted to relate to the session. The shaping of questions in a thoughtful, purposeful and intentional manner increases the likelihood of the check-in and check-out being powerful.

  2. Step 2:

    Think about what stage the group is at. What would be a useful question for them to check-in with?

    Think about the context and the general mood.

    • How much time do you have for the check-in? Does the question invite a 3-5 minute story from each person, a word or two, or a sentence or two?

    • How can the check-in connect and support the rest of the agenda and the overall purpose of the gathering?

    • What kind of tone do you want to create? Playful? Serious? Connecting? Learning something new about each other?

    • Consider: What has happened? What are they about to do? Has there been conflict? Is this a celebration?

    Choose a reflection question that will support the kind of mood and atmosphere that you want to create. Adjust questions to fit your meeting criteria.

    Focused

    • What’s one thing I hope to get accomplished at today’s meeting?
    • Share a word or two word on the intention you hold for today’s meeting to be a success.
    • What will you contribute to make our session a success?
    • What value/guiding principle do you bring to the table with you today?
    • What are you willing to set aside in order to be fully present with this conversation?

    General

    • What do I need to share to be present in this session?
    • How do I feel right now related to this session?
    • What am I excited or worried about related to today's session?

    Early in a project

    • What am I bringing to this group?
    • How do I feel working in this group?
    • What is my vision for this group?

    During a project

    • How do I feel working in this team?
    • What metaphor would I use to describe how I feel in this group?
    • What’s making me heavy and what’s making me lighter right now in this group?
    • What's happened since we last met?
    • What are you noticing in your environment that relates to this project?

    When a team knows each other well, or simply when the mood fits, you can introduce play/fun into your questions

    • What animal represents my mood today?
    • What song / movie / story represents my mood today?
    • What is my superhero power pose?
    • What temperature am I today and a few words on why.
    • What’s one thing that brings me energy and joy?
    • What is a recent success you’ve experienced?

    End of a project

    • What's my biggest learning or insight from today?
    • What do I choose to do differently next time?
    • What has been my highest high and lowest low from this project?
  3. Step 3:

    Consider

    Many people leave a session seeing the possibility of bringing a check-in process to their own team or meetings but wonder exactly how to do that well. Using the same question all the time eventually wears out its appeal, so it becomes important to make it relevant, engaging, and purposeful. Bring fresh questions with you. It keeps things interesting. Which brings it all back to context, purpose and intention.