Meeting management tends to be a set of skills often
overlooked by leaders and managers. The following
information is a rather "Cadillac" version
of meeting management suggestions. The reader might
pick which suggestions best fits the particular culture
of their own organization. Keep in mind that meetings
are very expensive activities when one considers the
cost of labor for the meeting and how much can or
cannot get done in them. So take meeting management
The process used in a meeting depends on the kind
of meeting you plan to have, e.g., staff meeting,
planning meeting, problem solving meeting, etc. However,
there are certain basics that are common to various
types of meetings. These basics are described below.
(Note that there may seem to be a lot of suggestions
listed below for something as apparently simple as
having a meeting. However, any important activity
would include a long list of suggestions. The list
seems to become much smaller once you master how to
conduct the activity.)
The decision about who is to attend depends on what
you want to accomplish in the meeting. This may
seem too obvious to state, but it's surprising how
many meetings occur without the right people there.
depend on your own judgment about who should come.
Ask several other people for their opinion as well.
possible, call each person to tell them about the
meeting, it's overall purpose and why their attendance
your call with a meeting notice, including the purpose
of the meeting, where it will be held and when,
the list of participants and whom to contact if
they have questions.
out a copy of the proposed agenda along with the
Have someone designated to record important actions,
assignments and due dates during the meeting. This
person should ensure that this information is distributed
to all participants shortly after the meeting.
Develop the agenda together with key participants
in the meeting. Think of what overall outcome you
want from the meeting and what activities need to
occur to reach that outcome. The agenda should be
organized so that these activities are conducted
during the meeting.
In the agenda, state the overall outcome that you
want from the meeting.
Design the agenda so that participants get involved
early by having something for them to do right away
and so they come on time.
Next to each major topic, include the type of action
needed, the type of output expected (decision, vote,
action assigned to someone), and time estimates
for addressing each topic.
Ask participants if they'll commit to the agenda.
Keep the agenda posted at all times.
Don't overly design meetings; be willing to adapt
the meeting agenda if members are making progress
in the planning process.
Think about how you label an event, so people come
in with that mindset; it may pay to have a short
dialogue around the label to develop a common mindset
among attendees, particularly if they include representatives
from various cultures.
start on time; this respects those who showed up
on time and reminds late-comers that the scheduling
attendees and thank them for their time.
the agenda at the beginning of each meeting, giving
participants a chance to understand all proposed
major topics, change them and accept them.
that a meeting recorder if used will take minutes
and provide them back to each participant shortly
after the meeting.
the kind of energy and participant needed by meeting
your role(s) in the meeting.
Ground Rules for Meetings
You don't need to develop new ground rules each time
you have a meeting, surely. However, it pays to have
a few basic ground rules that can be used for most
of your meetings. These ground rules cultivate the
basic ingredients needed for a successful meeting.
Four powerful ground rules are: participate, get
focus, maintain momentum and reach closure. (You
may want a ground rule about confidentiality.)
List your primary ground rules on the agenda.
If you have new attendees who are not used to your
meetings, you might review each ground rule.
Keep the ground rules posted at all times.
One of the most difficult facilitation tasks is
time management -- time seems to run out before
tasks are completed. Therefore, the biggest challenge
is keeping momentum to keep the process moving.
You might ask attendees to help you keep track of
If the planned time on the agenda is getting out
of hand, present it to the group and ask for their
input as to a resolution.
of Meeting Process
It's amazing how often people will complain about
a meeting being a complete waste of time -- but they
only say so after the meeting. Get their feedback
during the meeting when you can improve the meeting
process right away. Evaluating a meeting only at the
end of the meeting is usually too late to do anything
about participants' feedback.
Every couple of hours, conduct 5-10 minutes "satisfaction
In a round-table approach, quickly have each participant
indicate how they think the meeting is going.
Evaluating the Overall Meeting
Leave 5-10 minutes at the end of the meeting to
evaluate the meeting; don't skip this portion of
Have each member rank the meeting from 1-5, with
5 as the highest, and have each member explain their
Have the chief executive rank the meeting last.
Always end meetings on time and attempt to end on
a positive note.
At the end of a meeting, review actions and assignments,
and set the time for the next meeting and ask each
person if they can make it or not (to get their
that meeting minutes and/or actions will be reported
back to members in at most a week (this helps to
keep momentum going).