How does a Mastermind work? What happens in a meeting?

A mastermind is a small group (usually 4-8 people) who come together to meet regularly to support one another. Sometimes these groups are paid and in that case they’ll be set up and facilitated by a coach (or other leader). Other times one or more people will decide to set up a DIY group, inviting a few friends to join.

Paid Masterminds (such as my own) will often also offer 1:1 sessions and other ‘extras’, but the core of all Masterminds are the regular meetings – they’re where the magic happens.

Here’s the basic format. Depending partly on how many members there are, meetings usually last anywhere between 90 minutes and 2 or 3 hours. In my Masterminds, we start with a 3 hour kick-off workshop (where we start to get to know one another, set our ground rules for the group and also set our goals and intentions for the coming 3 months) and then have fortnightly meetings of 90 minutes.

After that first workshop, the rest of the meetings all follow roughly the same format. The time is divided roughly equally between participants (which usually means around 20-30 minutes for each person’s ‘hot seat’) and then we’ll go round the group members in turn. Some groups do a quick 5 minute check-in and catch-up from everyone first, and then go on to take turns in the ‘hot seat’ – this has the benefit that everyone gets to speak early on, and it also makes it easier for the facilitator to know whether someone is sitting on a big issue in a particular session, in which case it might make sense for them to go first for the hot seats.

When it’s your turn for the hot seat, you lay out whatever it is you want to bring to the group. This may be something you want to be coached through, or you may want to ask advice (particularly if you think either the facilitator or another group member has relevant knowledge/experience and can help) – or sometimes you may be clear that you just want to vent, and don’t want or need either coaching or advice. It’s critical that all group members understand the difference between someone who wants coaching, someone who wants advice and someone who just wants to vent – and that they respect the hot seat member’s wishes accordingly.

These hot seats are the heart of the meeting. In some cases, once the last person has had their turn, that will be it, in other cases the facilitator might spend a few minutes pulling together themes that have come up over the session.

In my own Mastermind, there’s a goal-setting element. We use the forum space to check in on goals at the beginning and end of the week but we also check in on progress in the meetings – this doesn’t have to take long, but it’s a powerful way of staying accountable. Also, it ensures that your progress doesn’t grind to a halt because you’ve either simply forgotten the goal or you’ve got stuck or hung up on a relatively small issue. The group can help to get you unstuck again, so that you stay in momentum.