Parliamentary Procedure Resources: Effective Meeting Tips
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Meetings Without Migranes

Dave Barry, a modern humorist, tells us that the modern corporate meeting can be compared to a funeral, in the sense that you have a gathering of people who are wearing uncomfortable clothing and would rather be somewhere else. "The major differences", he notes, "are that most funerals have a definite purpose (to say nice things about a dead person) and reach a definite conclusion (this person is put in the ground), whereas meetings generally drone on until the legs of the highest-ranking person present fall asleep. . . . Also, nothing is ever really buried in a meeting. An idea may look dead, but it will always reappear at another meeting later on"

Claw Your Way to the Top , by Dave Barry.

Click on a link below to read tips on how to effectively plan and run a meeting to maximize your time and keep the meeting focused.

Meeting Preparation Tips | Meeting Process Tips | Meeting Follow-Up Tips | Attendees' Responsibilities


  1. Things to consider:
    1. What is the purpose of the meeting?
      Hint: Be sure that it can be written in a sentence or two. If you have trouble writing it down, it is probably not clear enough.
    2. Do we need a meeting or are there other ways to accomplish the goal?
      1. Written Communication
        • Email
        • Faxes
        • Memos
        • Letters
      2. Conference Call
      3. Video conference
      4. Stand-up meeting
      5. One-on-one conversations
    3. Are the potential benefits worth the cost of the meeting?
      Analyze the cost from the point of view of how much each person in attendance makes per hour, in addition to what is not getting done by the meeting attendees because they are in the meeting.
    4. Is this the right time for the meeting?
      1. Are all of the needed people available for this meeting (including decision makers)?
      2. Do they have needed information?
      3. Are the attendees prepared to discuss the issues?
      4. Are the attendees psychologically ready, e.g. too close in time to a volatile situation, unresolved conflict, too much change, etc.?
    5. What will happen if you don't have a meeting?
      1. Important decision will not be made in time
      2. Project will not meet deadlines
      3. Interpersonal conflict will escalate
      4. Critical problem will not get solved
    6. What is the best physical layout of the room for this meeting?
      1. Consider meeting objective
      2. If you want to encourage interaction among the participants use circle or horseshoe shape
      3. If you want control of the flow of communication use classroom style
    7. What meeting arrangements need to be made?
      1. Name cards (tent cards)
        • If the person conducting the meeting does not know the names of all of the attendees, it is helpful to have a name card in front of each person
        • Name cards are also helpful when the attendees do not know each other's names
        • Put the participant’s name on both sides of the tent card – not because you question if the participant knows his own name, but so that the people on the same side of the table can see his name, not just those across the room
      2. Refreshments
      3. Name tags
      4. Pens and paper
    8. Are you or any of the participants in the meeting going to need audio visual equipment?
      1. Flip charts and markers
      2. White board and erasable markers
      3. LCD display board
      4. Lap top
      5. LCD projector
      6. Overhead projector and screen
      7. Slide projector and screen
      8. Microphone and speakers
        • Stationary
        • Lavaliere
        • Cordless
  2. Meeting notice – sent to the members in advance of the meeting
    1. Rationale
      1. If all attendees know in advance what is expected of them before the meeting, they are more likely to come prepared for the meeting.
      2. If all attendees know what they need to bring to the meeting, they are more likely to have what they need at the meeting
      3. A meeting notice prevents time wasted because of inadequate information provided in advance of the meeting
    2. Content
      1. List of attendees
        • Remember the larger the group, the longer the meeting will probably last
        • Are all decision makers included?
        • Are people with important input included?
        • Are there people who might gain from attendance at this meeting?
      2. Indicate who called the meeting
      3. Date, time (beginning and ending), and place of the meeting
      4. Meeting objective
      5. Whom to confirm attendance to
      6. Agenda
      7. Material to bring to meeting
      8. Material to read before the meeting
      9. Attachments
      10. Identification of minute taker
        • So they will come prepared with pen and paper or computer
      11. Identification of timekeeper
        • So they will come prepared with timepiece
      12. Identification of meeting observer/evaluator
        • For the purpose of improving the quality of the meeting
    3. Distribution
      1. Be sure that the meeting notice is distributed in sufficient time:
        • To fit into schedules of attendees
        • For attendees to do preparatory work
        • For rescheduling if key people can not attend
        • For attendees to ask questions in advance of meeting
  3. Agenda
    1. Preparation
      1. Who is to prepare the agenda?
      2. When do agenda items need to be submitted to the person preparing the agenda?
    2. Content and format
      1. Identify on the agenda who is responsible for each item on the agenda
      2. Identify the time devoted to each item on the agenda
      3. Identify and mark action items and information items
        • Determine codes to use for action items and information items. E.g.:
          • * Action Items
          • # Information Items
        • Consistently use these codes in front of each item on the agenda
          • The advantage of this is that if an attendee's preparation time is limited, he will know which are the action items so eh can prepare for them first
    3. Order of content
      1. The content of the agenda should be in order of most important to least important
      2. Then, if time runs out before the agenda is completed, the most important issues have been addressed

Jump To Other Essential Effective Meeting Tips

Meeting Process Tips | Meeting Follow-Up Tips | Attendees' Responsibilities

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