How to Frame a Hot Seat Topic
The Success Alliance


How to Frame a Hot Seat Topic

When people sit in the Hot Seat, sometimes they don’t know how to frame out their topic or question so that the other members can follow along.

This can lead to a rambling, disjoined Hot Seat presentation that confuses the other members. Then they spend so much time asking questions in order to gain clarity, there’s precious little time left to actually do brainstorming and find solutions.

Your job as the Facilitator is to help them narrow their frame to encompass the essence of their topic or question.

You are trying to get four pieces of information from the member in the Hot Seat during their presentation:

  1. What help do you want from your mastermind group?
  2. What is the problem or situation you want to explore?
  3. What decision do you need to make?
  4. What have you tried already?

Instead of starting chronologically with their entire story, ask them to first frame their request as a question. We call this the Ultimate Question.

Then, after they ask the question, they can give the background information:

  • the history of what’s happened so far
  • where they are stuck
  • what they’re thinking is around this topic
  • what they’ve already tried
  • how this situation relates to their goals

For instance, say that a business mastermind group member is trying to set a price for their new product. Instead of starting their presentation with the background about why they’re confused about their pricing structure for their new product, have them start by stating the Ultimate Question they want answered in the meeting: For my target audience and my profit goals, is $389 the right price for this product?

Or, in a mastermind group for CEOs, start with the Ultimate Question: What do I need to take into consideration when informing my employees that I’m retiring? Then the member can list some of the things he’s already thought about (or is concerned about) and the group can brainstorm to fill in the blanks for him.

By asking the Hot Seat member to condense his topic down to one question, he thinks more clearly about what he wants from the group.

If he tells his entire story first, we don’t know which threads to follow and which to ignore. However, if he first says, “I want to get the answer to this specific question,” we can easily hold the Ultimate Question in our minds, and pay attention to the back story, looking for what is important. It also allows us to ask superior clarifying questions.

If you have a limited amount of time for Hot Seats in your meetings, another way to ask members to frame their topic is by limiting how much time they have to talk about it. Consider limiting them to 5 minutes, or asking them to condense their Hot Seat topic to four sentences and one Ultimate Question.


As you know, I’m a big fan of preparation work. If members think through this in advance, they come to the meeting with better Hot Seat topics and clear Ultimate Questions. And that leads to a successful mastermind group.


4 thoughts on “How to Frame a Hot Seat Topic”

  1. GREAT Blog post and great coaching! This will really help me in my mastermind group! Thanks!

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      Hey, Mike, I’m glad you found it helpful! Hot Seats can be confusing, especially for a new group that’s just getting to know how to mastermind together.

  2. Laurie Wann says:

    I love the Ultimate Question – what a great approach. Thanks Karyn – this will really help me “unravel the ball of yarn”. I’m a huge advocate of hot seat prep, too!

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      I find getting people to be succinct is a real challenge, Laurie! 🙂

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