Thanks for reaching out with an excellent question!

I always like to preface answers to these types of questions with two reminders:

  1. Forums are like snowflakes – they are all unique. What works in one Forum may not work at all in another Forum. There are recommended processes and structures for Forum that many Forums follow as “best practices”. Sometimes Forums veer away from these best practices. Sometimes this is successful and sometimes it isn’t. There’s no perfect answer for how the Forum works best – it depends on the people in the Forum, the history of the Forum, the shared objectives of the Forum and the expectations of the individual Forum members. Periodic, honest conversations about these things are generally helpful to keep the Forum aligned on these important factors.
  2. Change is healthy in a Forum. Something may work for a while in your Forum, and then it starts to not work as well. If a Forum keeps doing exactly the same thing, using the same forms, tools and processes, year after year, it can become stale and boring. This is when it may be time for a change. Monthly updates are a great example of this. There are numerous monthly update forms available and some Forums have a practice of changing the form once a year, usually when the Moderator role changes. The length of the updates can change as well, along with several other options related to the monthly update process.

Based on the newest Forum Training workbook, the recommended time for updates is 3 to 5 minutes. However…

  • If you have a smaller Forum, you could allot more time for each person.
  • If you have a full agenda this month and you need to save time, you could plan for shorter updates.
  • If you are using a more detailed Monthly Update form, you could allot more time per person.

In my 24 years working with EO and YPO Forums, I’ve seen several other variations:

  • Updates can be as short as 2 minutes and as long at 15 minutes.
  • Many Forums are in the 5 to 8 minute range.
  • Some Forums allow 1 minute of Q&A at the end of each person’s update.
  • Some Forums allow an “I Notice” round at the end of each person’s update.
  • Some Forums allow note-taking during updates. Some do not.
  • Some Forums create their own update form. This could be designed to support an Annual Theme or shared goals of the Forum.

BTW, EO has renamed the “monthly update” to be the “5% reflection”. This new terminology is designed to remind us that we are to share significant, meaningful, deeper thoughts in our updates. Casual conversations should be reserved for lunch, dinner or social time.

So as you can tell, there isn’t a single, perfect answer to your question. Rather, I would think this could be a great opportunity to talk with your Forum about your monthly updates – which form you are using, and what seems reasonable in terms of the length of the time allotted per person. Know that you can make a decision together, implement your plan and review it periodically to discuss how well it’s working. Make changes if needed. Own your experience.

I hope that’s helpful. Thank you again for your question!