How to Run an Effective Meeting

Here’s a nice little guide to holding effective meetings that I came across. It’s written for volunteer based organizations but is appropriate for any

How to run an effective meeting


Context: In a volunteer driven organization meetings are more than a tool to accomplish goals. People are present for many reasons beyond the agenda and your duties are often more than a chairman or facilitator. Your role may change from meeting to meeting, as the team and individual roles develop. As a leader of the meeting it is your task to guide the group to accomplish the necessary goals and facilitate individual/group needs as they pertain to the overall team health, well being and productivity within established time constraints.
1. What is the purpose of the meeting?

  • Set clear goals in advance
  • Give ample context for meeting content in advance
  • Set expectations for those attending:
  • Developing a team spirit
    • Creating, roles, structure and process
    • Sharing information
    • Decisions by consensus
  • Input for consideration with decisions by another body

2. Give ample warning:

  • 4 week, 1 week, 1 day
  • Call when you have to!

3. Know what is your role:

  • Facilitate, mediate and lead
  • “In charge”/ chairman/ rotating chairman/ participant
  • Give people a voice relative to their role
  • Guide conversations
  • Establish and accomplish goals
  • Bring people together
  • Foster a team spirit

4. Facilitate them in their role:

  • To be part of team
  • To participate
  • To be an expert in their area
  • Help them find their roles
  • Pre meeting conversations when necessary
  • New group — take control, but be responsive and flexible
  • Mature groups — Softer reigns (i.e. -allow people to help prioritize agenda items)

5. Be prepared:

  • Have them prepared
  • Introduce ground rules as necessary
  • Meeting structure — weekly vs. monthly vs. yearly
  • Agenda planned — allow for input when appropriate/ what format? How do you share the agenda?
  • Send docs in advance
  • Who is coming? Examine the individuals and the potential or known group dynamic and be prepared mentally to do what is necessary to keep things on track and productive
  • Examine the balance between individual and group expectations
  • Do your homework – whatever it is

6. Assign roles:

  • Time keeper
  • Note taker
  • Vibe checker
  • Chairman
  • Preparing agenda
  • Tracking deliverables
  • Set up/ Clean up crew
  • Food getter

7. Respect people’s time:

  • Start and end on time
  • Keep content relevant
  • Consider people’s head-space when arranging the agenda (i.e.- warm up item first, meaty items next, fluff at the end)
  • Prep technology tools in advance
  • Schedule meetings around other calendar events

8. Set a tone that works for your group and matches your goals:

  • Fun/casual/professional/  ?
  • Food
  • Your body language counts
  • Where you sit sends a message
  • Keeping your composure = strength
  • If you have to get heavy prepare people in advance
  • Get the issues out without singling people out
  • Question how often you say “no” and in reference to what
  • Check your ego at the door
    • Don’t take anything personally
    • Take the high road
    • Let others bring up key points
    • Examine how much you are talking in relation to others

9. Close Meeting:

  • Recap what was covered in the meeting
  • Call out deliverables
  • Plan next meeting time
  • Thank people sincerely
  • Avoid individual kudos if you cannot cover everyone’s contributions

10. Follow Up:

  • Notes:
  • Take notes
  • Post them promptly after meeting
  • Allow others the opportunity to review, change and add things when appropriate
  • Deliverables are tracked
  • Deadlines are met
  • Focus is maintained
  • Progress is made
  • Celebrate successes
  • Find the method that works for your group

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