What is a Mastermind?

Have you ever taken part in a Mastermind? I’m introducing them as part of my brand new How to be a Comms Consultant Masterclasses and have received questions from internal comms pros who haven’t heard of them before.

So I thought I’d demystify it and share what you need to know about a Mastermind, why I rate them and how you can apply them in your own work.

Ready? Let’s get cracking…

What is it?

A Mastermind is an opportunity for you to get help with something you’re stuck on. It’s a group brainstorm which is focused on helping everyone succeed individually and collectively. Each person shares their thoughts and you hear ideas and opinions from others.

How does it work?

Masterminds typically take place in a small group – my Exploration and Momentum Masterclasses have four attendees, plus me.

Everyone in the group has a turn at sitting the hot seat and you set a timer. Sessions usually range from 5-10 minutes per person, or you can do a speedy one like I experienced at Media Influence Live last week, where we had 45 seconds per person to talk, then a couple of minutes for input from the group.

During your allocated time you share your thinking with everyone in the room. They then pitch in with ideas, asking questions and challenging you. This means you enjoy the collective wisdom of a group of peers.

What’s the benefit?

I experienced a couple of Masterminds at the Youpreneur Summit in London last year, which I’m attending again in November 2018.

My time in the hot seat provided clarity for some ideas I’d been cultivating – my consultation call packages for example.

Having time to work out loud provoked insights from fellow business owners who don’t know me, internal communication or All Things IC.

I found their feedback invaluable as they were incredibly objective and proactively questioned my thinking. I’m a big fan of Masterminds.

Do you need to prepare?

You can prepare if you would like to, but I find sharing what’s keeping me awake at night or what’s top of mind means I already know what to say as it’s bubbling away on the surface.

However, if you prefer to prepare, then yes.

Questions to ask yourself could include:

  • What am I stuck with?
  • What do I need help with?
  • What’s the idea I need to share out loud to see what others think?
  • What do I need others to validate?
  • Who do I need to know to help me succeed? What connections does the group have?
  • How can I ask for accountability?
  • What are the barriers getting in my way?
  • What do I need to admit?
  • What could I celebrate?

What do I gain?

You gain inspiration, ideas and feedback from a group of peers. This is not a judgemental exercise, but one where you nurture and support each other and provide honest thoughts based on what you hear.

Is it scary?

No. I believe you get out what you put in. Everyone has their turn in the hot seat, so the spotlight is not just on one person, which is where I think fear comes in.

You’re all in the same situation and are all accountable to each other.

What happens next?

Once the Mastermind is over, you can decide as a group what you would like to do. Some people you never speak with again if you’re at a conference as the learning and feedback is in that moment.

Whereas if you’re in a work situation or course, you may decide to keep in touch with some or all of the group. There’s no right or wrong answer.

How could I use them?

You could try a Mastermind format within your own workplace. For example in your internal communication team meeting or when you join your stakeholders’ planning meetings for projects. You could each take it in turns to reveal your thoughts on a particular topic and collectively pitch in to help each individual.

How are they integrated into courses?

I have opportunities coming up to experience Masterminds in London face-to-face with me:

During these sessions, delegates have the chance to share their challenges and thinking and get advice from their peers.

During Exploration, topics could be: what stage you are at in exploring the idea of being a Consultant, what worries you about the idea, why you are considering it, any burning questions.

During Momentum, topics could be: what you need help with, what isn’t working so well, feedback on an idea or initiative or a client conundrum.

I hope that helps. Do you use Masterminds at work? Will you give them a go?

Thank you for stopping by. As ever if you have any queries, do get in touch with me or you can find me on Twitter @AllthingsIC.


Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 11 July 2018.

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