Checking in and checking out are processes used to open and close a meeting. The purpose of checking in is to ensure everyone in the group is seen, heard and acknowledged. It also helps people leave their busyness behind and be fully present at the meeting they have come to. Simply put, check-in helps to focus everyone and lets every voice be heard from the start.
Each person gets to have their say, usually by moving clockwise around the group. Questions or prompts used for check-in could include things like, “What brought you to this meeting today?” or “One thing I’d like to get out of our conversation today is…”. Think about who is coming to the meeting and what the purpose of the meeting is – this will guide you in how serious or playful your check-in should be. Remember not everyone will know each other, so the check-in should involve each person introducing themselves.
Similarly, check-out is a way to close a meeting that ensures everyone leaves being heard. It gives an official close to the meeting while providing a touching point for how people are thinking or feeling at the end of the conversation. Again, think about the purpose of the meeting and who is there, as this will determine how casual or formal your check-out can be. The check-out might ask for one word to describe how people are feeling at the end of the meeting, or might ask something like, “what did you get out of our conversation today?” or “what’s your next step once you leave this meeting?”
Check-in and check-out processes are not the time for discussion. At the very least, check-in and check-out times provide a safe platform for the most vulnerable group members to have their voice heard without being talked over, disagreed with or railroaded. It is important that the facilitator of the conversation models this. Some groups use a talking-piece (a small, tangible item) to assist them to keep to this principle during check-in and check-out. This can be a nice way to acknowledge place, too! Using a rock, feather, branch from the place you are meeting might serve this purpose.