Effective Meetings

At work, much time can be spent in meetings depending on your responsibilities. This time should be put to good use. For managers, often much of their work is meetings. Unneccessary meetings, or meetings that are too long, drain energy. Here are some tips for the person who facilitates or runs meetings to make sure they are effective. See also the group meeting "Facilitator's Guide".

  1. Solicit input for an agenda from those who will participate and circulate the agenda before the meeting.
  2. Put the items on the agenda in priority order.
  3. Assign someone to take notes during the meeting, including all agreements reached, and type up the notes and circulate them within a week to all the participants.
  4. As a warm-up at the beginning of the meeting, go round the table (or randomly), and ask each participant to complete the statement "What I'd most like us to accomplish at this meeting is _____" or "One specific thing I want to have us address is _____."
  5. Assign a suggested amount of time for each item (20 minutes, 1 hour, whatever seems appropriate).
  6. At the end of discussion on each agenda item, ask the group "What Else?" and wait. Make sure the shy ones get a chance to say something.
  7. If closure has not been reached at the end of the time allotted for an agenda item, then stop and have the group decide to:
      a.  Agree that we are stuck and put the item on hold;
      b.  Agree on a specific amount of additional time to discuss the item; or
      c.  Stop right then and make a decision.
  8. Each decision should include who will do what, by when, and when will the rest of the group hear the results. If this is not done, you'll end up with nothing happening.
  9. If you get stuck or bogged down as to where the group is, or if the task isn't happening, stop and take a process break. Have each person respond to the following statements with no discussion.
       a.   "The main reason that I think we are stuck or bogged down is....."; and
       b.   "What I think needs to happen next is...."
       c.   Now discuss and decide what to do next to get meeting back on track.
  10. At the end of the meeting, ask the recorder to summarize the decisions made, and who is do what next by when. Make corrections if needed.
  11. As a last meeting item, have the group briefly evaluate how things went. Let each participant have a moment to say what they appreciated about the meeting, what they were disappointed by, frustrated by, what was helpful, what was a hindrance, unresolved feelings, questions, concerns. No discussion or comments, accept it as useful feedback.
  12. Consider rotating the responsibility for facilitating the next meeting among people in a work group. If a group goes that route, it should develop some ground rules for the facilitator and a meeting format which are put in writing.

Return to Index of O.D. Handouts