Running Effective Meetings

Group meetings are a great way to make group decisions, develop plans, delegate responsibilities, facilitate group trainings, etc. 

Steps for running effective meetings

  • Before organizing a meeting, make sure you need one.  While group meetings are great for the reasons above, they not necessary to disseminate information or other purposes that don’t require feedback and input from the group.
  • Plan the meeting and know your GOALS 
    • Define the goals – what kinds of discussions and atmosphere will enable us to reach them?
    • Prepare an agenda
    • Create a list of the attendees
    • Set someone up to facilitate
    • Prepare facilitator and attendees in advance – send out the agenda beforehand
    • Anticipate and prepare for pitfalls
    • Plan a time to debrief with meeting facilitators and any other key participants.  
  • Preparing for the meeting takes at least as long as the meeting itself.  Consider the following.
    • Is the location accessible?
    • Is the room the right size?  (better to be too small than too big)
    • Does the chair setup facilitate a participatory conversation?
    • Is there somewhere to write up ideas?  Butcher block?  Whiteboard?
    • Is there a sign-in sheet?
    • Are there materials for people to take?
    • Are there refreshments?  Follow-up social plan?
    • Is there a scheduled duration of the meeting and for each piece within it?
  • Plan for follow-up before the meeting
    • Put time in your schedule for meeting follow-up.  This could include thanking any VIPs that attended, debriefing with facilitators, updating volunteer log with new attendees, and following up on delegated tasks
  • Prepare all participants
    • Everyone coming should have an agenda and know how they will be participating (presenting a report, helping with a training, etc)
    • Facilitators should know who is coming, what outcomes they want, who is best suited for each role to be delegated, etc…
  • Anticipate pitfalls
    • Facilitator should feel comfortable in his/her role and be ready to balance the tensions of giving people the opportunity for input while still moving the agenda forward.
    • Be ready to stimulate any lulls in the conversation, or bring tangential conversations to an end.
  • Debrief the meeting
    • Was the agenda appropriate?
    • Did the attendees include everyone we wanted?  Were there any distractors?
    • Were the facilitators prepared?
    • Were the participants prepared enough?
    • Logistics?
    • What is our follow-up plan with participants?  Delegated tasks?
    • How can we make it better next time?

Sample agenda

  1. Intros
  2. Overview of agenda/goals
  3. Reports
  4. Discussion of plans for the week/month
  5. Skills training
  6. Delegate tasks
  7. Review plan and what was decided
  8. Announcements
  9. Adjourn
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