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Using a SPACER to Kick Off Your Meeting

Using a SPACER to Kick Off Your Meeting

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to deliver a Train the Trainer program for Duke Energy. During the program I asked if anyone used a SPACER to kick off their training. To my surprise, this group of technical trainers had never heard of a SPACER before. Here are the basics.

A SPACER is a reminder for starting a meeting or a training program the right way:

S is for Safety. Begin each meeting with a safety tip. This can be a workplace safety tip such as always wearing safety glasses when touring a Chemical Plant, or a personal safety tip such as always keeping your passport in the same place when traveling.

P is for Purpose. What is the purpose of the meeting/event? Why are people attending? This could be the same as the learning objectives in a training situation.

A is for Agenda. Every meeting should have an agenda that is distributed in advance. A thorough agenda includes the meeting location, names of participants, time frames and meeting purpose. If the meeting is off site, directions should be included with the agenda.

C is for Code of Conduct. In training, we also call the code of conduct “ground rules.” A suggested code of conduct might be:

  • Begin and end on time

  • Listen with respect to each other

  • No cell phones or pagers

E is for Expectations. What do the participants expect? What does the facilitator or trainer expect? There are many ways to gather expectations. You can ask for them ahead of time, you can ask the participants to write them down on post it notes and then post the notes on a flip chart, or you can go around the room and ask every participant. There is no one right way.

R is for Roles and responsibilities. During a meeting, there should be a timekeeper, a scribe, a facilitator, and attendees. The facilitator does not have to know anything about the meeting topic. Their job is to keep everyone on track and to facilitate the meeting. During a training session, there will be an instructor and participants. The instructor might ask the participants to take on different roles and responsibilities during the course of the training.

  • Arrive at the training location at least one hour prior to the start of the training program. The earliest participant will arrive 20-30 minutes before the start of class. You want to be available to chat with him/her.

  • Use an icebreaker to set the tone for the training. An icebreaker can be used before or after the S.P.A.C.E.R. There are many effective icebreakers available.[i] A good one is to ask the participants to work in pairs and interview each other asking:

[i] A good resource for icebreakers is Games Trainers Play by Edward E.Scannell and John Newstrom



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