Planning an Effective Meeting

The tips below are helpful in planning team meetings.

Step 1: Identify the Goals of the Meeting

Don’t hold a meeting unless there are specific goals. Consider alternate ways to do the work, such as:

  • Email and/or phone consultations
  • Subgroup assignments with reports back to the larger group

Identify the purpose(s) of the meeting:

  • Working on a common project
  • Check-in
  • Problem solving
  • Brainstorming or idea generation
  • Team building
  • Celebration

Step 2: Prepare & Distribute an Agenda

  • List topics that will be covered during the meeting and the purpose for each:

    • Information distribution
    • Decision making
    • Discussion and creation of action plans
  • Decide how much time should be spent on each topic.
  • Note any action items that are due and make sure team members know of any assignments they are to complete.
  • Distribute the agenda before the meeting.

Step 3: Follow up After the Meeting

  • Distribute notes with clearly identified action items and timelines.
  • Communicate decisions to all who need to know about them.
  • If appropriate, seek backing or approval from the related process owner(s), the committee(s), or sponsor(s).

Conduct a Meeting Audit

If you lead or participate in recurring team meetings, you may want to conduct a meeting assessment to see how well best practices are followed.

Set Ground Rules

Ground rules are the operating principles for how groups will work together. Meetings are most effective when participants share expectations and hold each other accountable. Take time at the beginning of the process to agree on:


  • Establish a regular, reliable schedule.
  • Agree that meetings will start and end on time; discuss options for dealing with absences.
  • Plan a process for distributing agendas before the meeting and notes afterward.


  • Establish standards for respectful listening, such as one person speaking at a time, avoiding sarcasm, etc.
  • Set expectations for confidentiality.
  • Develop a decision-making process.
  • Decide how decisions will be communicated, and to whom.
  • Discuss ways to solicit opinions from the quieter team members.

Meeting Roles

Decide before the meeting who will be performing the following tasks. Note that it is often effective to rotate the roles.

  • Facilitator: keeps discussions on track, leads problem-solving and decision-making processes
  • Process leader: makes sure everyone gets a chance to express an opinion, ensures that discussions are open and respectful
  • Task leader: responsible for completing a specific task such as facilitating a sub-group, researching a particular topic, acting as subject matter expert, etc.
  • Timekeeper: monitors the time assigned to each agenda item
  • Note taker: records decisions and action items, makes sure all group members receive copies