Use this guide to help make your meetings more effective. Whether you are the facilitator or a participant, follow these best practices to make the most of your time.
Ask yourself the following questions after your next meeting…
- Did I understand the goals of the meeting
- Were all the attendees engaged and focused on the goals of the meeting
- Were there any actions items as a result of the meeting
- Was this the best use of my time – everyone’s time?
For meeting organizers…
Confirm the need for the meeting
- Is a meeting necessary or will a quick call do the trick?
- For quick calls, consider scheduling a fifteen-minute conversation instead of a full meeting, followed by an email to confirm your conversation.
Prepare a meeting agenda
- Prepare an agenda for every meeting, no matter how small
- If you have more than one topic, consider separate meetings.
Plan for the meeting
- Keep meetings as small as practical – select only attendees who are directly involved and able to deal effectively with agenda items.
- Mark attendees as optional if they do not need to attend.
- Distribute materials to be reviewed at least one day before the meeting.
- Arrange for someone (scribe) to record meeting notes.
Facilitate the meeting
- Start the meeting on time.
- Review the agenda with the participants.
- Manage time. If a conversation veers off topic, use the concept of a “parking lot” and add an action item to finish the conversation at a later time.
- Ensure all attendees an opportunity to participate.
- Discourage serial interruption.
- Take notes – write down…
- Decisions made
- Action items (include owner name and due date)
- Issues deferred
- Reserve 5 minutes at the end of each meeting to review summary notes and action items with participants just before the end of the meeting.
- Block time for yourself after each meeting to summarize notes and distribute to the attendees the day of the meeting
For meeting participants…
Review and respond to meeting invitations
- Respond to meeting invitations.
- Review meeting attendees and confirm your team is properly represented. For cross-functional meetings, can one team member represent the team instead of having multiple team members attend?
Participate in the meeting
- Be on time.
- Come prepared – understand your role, review the materials, and prepare questions and answers.
- Do not bring electronic devices to meetings. If you need to bring an electronic device, let the meeting organizer know ahead of time.
- Help the meeting leader follow the agenda and keep the meeting on time and on track.
- Speak up and participate as appropriate.
- Excuse yourself from the meeting early if you no longer need to contribute or if your team is adequately represented.