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.
Don't depend on your own judgment about who should come.
Ask several other people for their opinion as well.
If possible, call each person to tell them about the
meeting, it's overall purpose and why their attendance is
Follow-up 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
Send 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 participants get involved early by
having something for them to do right away and come on
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
agenda if members are making progress in the planning
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
Always start on time; this respects those who showed up on
time and reminds late-comers that the scheduling is
Welcome attendees and thank them for their time.
Review the agenda at the beginning of each meeting, giving
participants a chance to understand all proposed major
topics, change them and accept them.
Note that a meeting recorder if used will take minutes and
provide them to each participant shortly after the
Model the kind of energy and participant needed by meeting
Clarify your role's in the meeting
Establishing Ground Rules for
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 the
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
Evaluations 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'
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 the meeting.
Have each member rank the meeting from 1-5, with 5 as the
highest, and have each member explain their ranking
Have the chief executive rank the meeting last.
Always end meetings on time and attempt to end on a
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 commitment)
Clarify that meeting minutes and/or actions will be
reported back to members in at most a week (this helps to
keep momentum going).