Meeting Guidelines for Organizers and Participants


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…
    • Attendees
    • 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.