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Effective Meetings . Agenda. The importance of effective meetings The effective-meeting process: Before meetings (Plan) During meetings (Do) After meetings (Review) A checklist to review meeting effectiveness. When Is a Meeting Effective?. A meeting is effective when it achieves its

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  • The importance of effective meetings
  • The effective-meeting process:
    • Before meetings (Plan)
    • During meetings (Do)
    • After meetings (Review)
  • A checklist to review meeting effectiveness
when is a meeting effective
When Is a Meeting Effective?

A meeting is effective when it achieves its

objectives in a minimum amount of time

to the satisfaction of the participants.

the key message
The Key Message

Effective meetings are managed events –

they don’t just happen.

steps to an effective meeting
Steps to an Effective Meeting
  • Establish the need (why)
  • Set a clear agenda (what and how)
  • Arrange logistics (where and when)
  • Define roles and responsibilities (who)
  • Pre-position key contributions
  • Identify and overcome barriers


  • Follow the agenda
  • Record group thinking
  • Practice good meeting behaviors
  • Enact meeting roles
  • Identify next steps
  • Note benefits and concerns


  • Evaluate effectiveness
  • Circulate meeting summary
  • Follow up on next steps
  • Incorporate benefits and concerns into next meeting plan




Planning should take the most effort in order to maximize the effectiveness of the meeting.

we participate in all types of meetings
We Participate in all Types of Meetings






Dowe really need to meet or can we do this without a meeting?






One-way information sharing meetings, briefings

Project updates, management reviews

Staff meetings, standing committee meetings

Decision-oriented meetings, problem-solving meetings, task force meetings, team meetings, project team meetings, focus groups

Source: How to Lead Work Teams: Facilitation Skills, Fran Rees.

good reasons to meet require the interaction of multiple people
Good Reasons to Meet Require the Interaction of Multiple People
  • To share different perspectives and gain understanding
  • To brainstorm and further develop ideas
  • To make decisions
  • To develop action plans
  • To explain and clarify complicated information
  • To achieve consensus
the not so good reasons why we meet
The Not-So-Good Reasons Why We Meet
  • Simply because the meeting is being held
  • Because that’s what teams do
  • To share risk and avoid responsibility
  • To share information
  • To wordsmith mission statements, etc.
  • To be participatory
  • To follow up on actions
  • Because your presence is mandated


Consider Saying “NO”

If there is no good reason to meet, find another way to achieve your objective

seven basic steps for planning a meeting
Seven Basic Steps For Planning a Meeting

Assigning and agreeing roles in advance helps with attendance

1. Decide precisely what you want to accomplish during the meeting – a decision, a plan, alternatives, understanding?

2. Determine who needs to attend and who can be copied on meeting minutes. Plan roles for the attendees in advance.

3. Plan the content of the meeting — the agenda — and the frequency and duration needed.

4. Plan how you will present each part of the agenda for maximum effectiveness. Consider your outcome and determine the methods and environment that best supports it.

I prefer longer meetings that meet less frequently

How will decisions be made? Voting? Consensus?

seven basic steps for planning a meeting continued
Seven Basic Steps for Planning a Meeting (continued)

5. Plan what you will do after the meeting or between meetings to be effective and to make progress like status updates, teleconferences, sub-teams.

6. Plan how you will evaluate the meeting — as it is taking place and afterward.

7. Reach agreement on meeting agenda, issues, and materials with key participants, sponsors, and resources prior to the meeting in order to proactively set expectations, build commitment, and resolve issues.

Setting up sub-teams and progress status reporting outside meetings saves meeting time for group issues

guidelines for an effective agenda
Guidelines for an Effective Agenda
  • Identify the time, date, place, and participants
  • Describe your objective
  • Tell the participants how to prepare
  • Set time limits on topics
  • Ensure enough time for a proper discussion
  • Schedule items in order of importance
  • Distribute in advance
anticipate and overcome barriers
Anticipate and Overcome Barriers
  • Barriers may include:
  • Uninformed participants
  • Uncooperative participants
  • Lack of authority to accomplish objective
  • Unresolved conflicts between participants
  • Solutions may include:
  • Disseminating information prior to meeting
  • Proactively working conflicts prior to meeting
  • Setting a more limited objective
  • Deciding not to meet
plan which materials you will need
Plan Which Materials You Will Need

Before the Meeting . . .

  • Prepare strawmodel documents for the attendees to review
  • Gather materials you will need in the meeting
    • Slides – Flip charts
    • Handouts – Markers
    • Tape – Previous meeting’s next steps and minutes
  • Secure meeting room and equipment
  • Arrive early enough to make certain the room is prepared before meeting participants arrive
  • Post ground rules and other relevant materials on walls

Bring drafts of documents to work on like charters, mission statements, etc. Do not start with blank pages. If needed, commission a sub-team to write drafts.

establish ground rules with your team at the start
Establish Ground Rules with Your Team at the Start

Be on time – within 5 minutes of start

No distractions – phone, blackberry

One meeting, no side conversations

Limit anecdotes

No blaming or cya

Be respectful

Be candid

Everyone gets a turn

Help clean up

Team vynamics– whereby two or three team members vie to dominate the meeting conversation

1. Look for faults in others

2. Lob “grenades”

3. Ramble

4. Come with hidden agendas

5. Allow two meetings at the same time

6. Pass notes

7. Violate time contracts

8. Set up “lose-lose” situations

Ground Rules



Doing is easy after all the planning.

meeting roles leader
Meeting Roles: Leader
  • “Owns” the meeting and sets the objectives
  • Guides the content of the meeting (Are we meeting objectives?)
  • Determines the participants and assigns roles
  • Develops the agenda
  • Provides support, information, and resources
  • Sets the tone, expectations, and direction
  • Encourages creativity
  • Makes decisions or determines how to make decisions
meeting roles facilitator
Meeting Roles: Facilitator
  • Guides and monitors the process of the meeting (Is the meeting running well?)
  • Makes it “safe” for everyone to participate
  • Monitors time contract or uses time keeper
  • Brings team back on-track when needed
  • Helps headline and clarify ideas
  • Aids team performance
  • Provides feedback
meeting roles scribe
Meeting Roles: Scribe

Documents everything noteworthy that occurs during the meeting, not just what was written on flipcharts:

  • Attendance, date, objectives
  • Ideas, discussion threads, parking lot items
  • Outcomes – decisions, next steps
  • What’s due for next meeting

The scribe ends up having the most power over the course of the meetings because what is documented is what gets enacted.

meeting roles time keeper
Meeting Roles: Time Keeper
  • Monitors time contract
  • Brings team back on-track when needed
meeting roles resource
Meeting Roles: Resource
  • Generates ideas and recommendations
  • Adheres to the agenda
  • Practices good meeting behaviors
  • Enforces ground rules
  • Completes assigned tasks
  • Participates actively

Giving everyone a specific role gives them more of a reason to attend and makes your meeting more effective. Consider assigning hats.

de bono s six thinking hats
De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

The White Hat

The White Hat calls for information known or needed.

The Red Hat

The Red Hat signifies feelings, hunches and intuition.

The Black Hat

The Black Hat is judgment -- the devil's advocate or why something may not work.

The Yellow Hat

The Yellow Hat symbolizes brightness and optimism and how things could work.

The Green Hat

The Green Hat focuses on creativity: the possibilities, alternatives and new ideas.

The Blue Hat

The Blue Hat is used to manage the thinking process.

running the meeting
Running the Meeting
  • Allow time for chit chat
  • Review the agenda
  • Remind team of the ground rules
  • Remind team of assigned roles
  • Record open ideas and issues in “parking lot” to be addressed later
  • Help participants turn ideas, issues, and concerns into action plans/next steps
  • Manage the agenda and the time
  • Record next steps and decisions
  • Summarize the meeting results
  • Evaluate the meeting before leaving
tips for improving meeting effectiveness
Tips for Improving Meeting Effectiveness
  • Use headlining approach
  • Help others headline ideas
  • Be constructive
  • Use the “how to” (H2) or I wish I knew …(IWIK) phrases
  • Listen actively
  • Paraphrase for understanding
  • Observe time contract
  • Use behavior enforcers, e.g. money pot

Meeting Do’s

Build on others’ ideas

Use parking lots

Use multiple note takers

Set up “win-win” situations

Remember, “No idea is a bad idea”

Do benefits before concerns

Rotate roles

Ensure everyone contributes

encourage participation through hooks and responses
Encourage Participation Through Hooks and Responses

Let me build on that . . .

What I like about that . . .

What I hear you saying . . .

How wouldwe. . .

Help me understand . . .

I wish I knew what . . .

Can you say more about that . . .

the group memory flipchart or lcd recordings
The Group Memory: Flipchart or LCD Recordings
  • Helps the group focus
  • Provides instant record of meeting content
  • Encourages participation
  • “Depersonalizes” ideas
  • Increases sense of accomplishment
leave time at the end of the meeting for feedback
Leave Time at the End of the Meeting for Feedback
  • Perform a process pro’s and cons or benefits and concerns:
      • What went well?
      • What should we improve for next time?
  • Perform a content pro’s and cons or benefits and concerns:
      • How well are we meeting our objectives?
      • What do we need to do better?
  • Assign roles for next meeting

If you don’t do this your meetings will never get any better.



The only way to improve meeting effectiveness is to evaluate it and determine what to do better.

after the meeting
After the Meeting
  • Review meeting benefits and concerns
  • Solicit participants’ individual feedback on meeting
  • Compare notes and prepare and distribute meeting minutes
  • Follow up on Next Steps via email, phone, etc.
  • Set up sub-teams to work on larger actions
  • Issue progress reports
  • Start planning the next meeting




a checklist can help evaluate meeting effectiveness
A Checklist Can Help Evaluate Meeting Effectiveness


1. Was an agenda sent out ahead of time with minutes and any pre-reading?

2. Were objectives clear?

3. Were handouts and meeting aides prepared in advance?

4. Was the meeting room set up properly?

5. Did the meeting start on time?

6. Was the agenda followed?

7. Did participants understand what was expected of them during the meeting?

8. Did the meeting end on time?

9. Was there good participation in the meeting?

10. Were meeting roles followed?

11. Was the meeting summarized?

12. Were participants’ problems, concerns, and needs sought?

13. Were decisions made or action items assigned to resolve problems?

14. Were commitments asked for and made and documented?

15. Were follow-up reporting times established?

16. Did meeting leader practice good interpersonal skills: active listening, paraphrasing, and recognizing non-verbals