Almost 10 years ago, I had my first experience with a professional Forum when I joined Entrepreneurs’ Organization. A Forum, which is also often referred to as a Mastermind, is a group of peers who meet regularly, with the goal of helping each member improve personally and professionally. The Forum structure is a foundation of many professional organizations and self-help groups.
In a standard Forum meeting, a member makes a presentation about an opportunity or challenge they are facing and asks for the group’s input. After the topic at hand is presented, each Forum-mate is given a set amount of time to share their perspective.
Given the request for input and feedback, you might expect a presenter to receive various advice from the other Forum members. However, most Forum organizations train members to specifically avoid giving advice. Instead, members are guided to share an experience they’ve had, or that someone they know has had, that is similar to the presenter’s challenge or opportunity. Then, they explain the action taken in that situation, and the outcome.