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Making Meetings Work. STRATEGIES DESIGNED TO IMPROVE MEETING MANAGEMENT AND GROUP FACILITATION Terry Kershaw Vice Chancellor North Centers State Center Community College District. Purposes of Meetings. Meetings are an opportunity to: Bring problems to the surface

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Making Meetings Work

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making meetings work
Making Meetings Work





Terry Kershaw

Vice Chancellor

North Centers

State Center Community College District

purposes of meetings
Purposes of Meetings

Meetings are an opportunity to:

  • Bring problems to the surface
  • Solve problems and make decisions
  • Improve communication
  • Develop leadership
  • Increase ownership of and commitment to decision
  • Resolve conflicts
  • Make plans and set goals
  • Share information and educate the group
  • Improve group productivity and effectiveness
group exercise
Group Exercise
  • Identify the most common meeting problems that you have encountered.
  • Prioritize the five common meeting problems in order of their importance in terms of managing meetings effectively.

Common Meeting Problems:






common meeting problems
Common Meeting Problems


  • Multi-headed animal syndrome. Everybody going off in different directions at the same time.
  • Confusion between process and content. Are we talking about how to discuss the topic or what topic to discuss?
  • Personal attack. Attacking individuals rather than their ideas.
common meeting problems5
Common Meeting Problems


  • Unclear roles and responsibilities. Who is supposed to be doing what?
  • Manipulation by the group leader. Rubber stamp meetings and abuse of power to achieve personal objectives.
  • Hidden agendas. Something is going to happen that no one is talking about.
  • Traffic problem. Difficulty in leaping into the conversation flow and getting a chance to participate.
common meeting problems6
Common Meeting Problems

Information Handling

  • Data Overload. Having to hold onto too many ideas in your head at one time.
  • Repetition and wheel spinning. Going over the same old ideas again and again.
common meeting problems7
Common Meeting Problems

Decision Making

  • Win/lose approaches to decision making. Partial solutions, compromises, polarization, and low commitment.
  • Unresolved questions of power and authority. Do we have the power to make this decision?
common meeting problems8
Common Meeting Problems


  • Poor meeting environments. Can’t hear, can’t see, too stuffy, etc.

Preparation and Follow Up

  • Confused objectives and expectations. Why did you call the meeting and what is the group supposed to be doing?
common meeting problems9
Common Meeting Problems

Other Common Problems Include:

Problem avoidance. “Everything is fine” or “There are no problems around here.”

General negativity and lack of challenge. “There is nothing we can do about it, so why try?”

Communication problems. Not listening to or understanding what others are saying or making faulty assumptions.

Personality Conflicts. Lack of openness and trust, underlying tension, racism, and sexism.

How to Make Meetings Work, Doyle & Straus, 1976


A norm is an operational principle or expectation that implicitly or explicitly governs the actions of a group of people.

“The way things are done around here…”

Building Teams, Building People, Harvey and Drolet. 1992.


Meeting Norms

  • “Ground Rules” that establish the management of the meeting.
  • All members must agree to the norms.
  • Norms need to be reinforced.
committee meetings norms groundrules
Committee MeetingsNorms/Groundrules


  • Members unable to attend the meeting will accept the decisions of the group.
  • A written summary of the meeting decisions will be recorded and distributed to the members.
  • Group decisions will be made in a collaborative manner with consensus a high priority.
  • A facilitator will be used to manage the meeting.
  • The meeting agenda will be reviewed and modified as necessary at the beginning of each meeting.
  • The confidentiality of materials and discussions will be accepted by the group.
  • The committee members will adhere to the meeting agenda beginning and ending times.
  • Each person has a right to be heard and his or her ideas respected.
  • In the event of a vote, each member is entitled to one vote.
meeting facilitation techniques
Meeting Facilitation Techniques
  • Outcomes: The first item to be discussed with the group is the expected outcomes of the meeting. Must have clear agreement from group before items are discussed.
  • PAG-PAU:

Problems As Given,

Problems As Understood.

Do all members understand the problem?

  • Recording: If needed, post the problem on flip chart so all members will see and understand.
meeting facilitation techniques16
Meeting Facilitation Techniques

Process Agreements: How to get outcomes

  • All members must clearly understand the process, which will occur to reach consensus on the problem, issue, or task.
  • Process can be recorded on the flip chart for group memory.

Content Agreements: Results of group action

  • All members must agree on the agreements reached (consensus)
  • Agreements should be recorded for group memory.


  • Always summarize agreements (content and process) to the group as they reach consensus.
preparing the agenda
Preparing the Agenda
  • Meeting purpose: What is the reason for the meeting (e.g., action on specific items, discussion, communications, etc.)?
  • Item: What is the topic to be addressed?
  • Objective/Action: What is the expected outcome relating to the agenda item?
  • Strategy: What strategies will the meeting facilitator use to reach expected outcome?
  • Time: How much time is needed for action?
18 steps to a better meeting
18 Steps to a Better Meeting

Before the meeting:

1. Plan the meeting carefully: who, what, where, why, how many.

2. Prepare and send out an agenda in advance.

3. Come early and set up the meeting room.

At the beginning of the meeting:

4. Start on time.

5. Get participants to introduce themselves and state their expectations for the meeting.

6. Clearly define roles.

7. Review, revise, and order the agenda.

8. Set clear time limits.

9. Review action items from the previous meeting.

During the meeting:

10. Focus on the same problem in the same way at the same time.


At the end of the meeting:

    • 11. Establish action items: who, what, when.
    • 12. Review the group memory.
    • 13. Set the date and place of the next meeting and develop a preliminary agenda.
    • 14. Evaluate the meeting.
    • 15. Close the meeting crisply and positively.
    • 16. Clean up and rearrange the room.
  • After the meeting:
    • 17. Prepare the group memo.
    • 18. Follow-up on action items and begin to plan the next meeting.

This has been a