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Effective and productive meeting checklist

Meeting content: A focus on the task.

Why do we meet?


State the objective of the meeting explicitly so that everyone knows why they have been brought together.

Agenda.

For formal meetings and meetings requiring preparation, create agenda and distribute it in advance.

For informal meetings or for those called in the midst of change, build the agenda at the start of the meeting by polling participants for items they think should be covered.

Where do you find agenda items?




Prioritize agenda items in terms of importance to most participants.
Assign realistic amounts of time to each agenda item.

Use of time.

Look to the objective and agenda to estimate how long it will take to cover critical points.
Think also about participants' schedules and preferred times.
Schedule meetings to accommodate key participants' calendars.

Prepare in advance.

Take the time to prepare for the meeting. Collect your thoughts and write them down or design a formal presentation.

Have you sent all documents needed for the meeting to all participants ?

Request every attendee to prepare for the meeting, as well. Please do that enough time before the meeting that attendees have time to be ready by the meeting time.

Meeting process: A focus on the people.

Who will participate?

  • Whose input do we need?
  • Who's needed to make a decision?
  • Whose buy-in do we need to move forward?

When deciding whom to invite to a meeting, look for the "three C's" of participation: The committed, the creative and the competent. These are the people who will help you achieve your objectives.

Pre-meeting communication.

Before the meeting be sure to consider the following:
  • Advance agenda
  • Participants
  • Time and place
  • Preparation of materials
  • List of audio/visual equipment available to presenters
  • Requests for any special needs

What ground rules or agreements will serve the group?

Agreements are intended to promote positive meeting behavior. Agreement terms must be clear and observable. You can observe people being on time, but you can't observe them "having a good attitude" because that is too subjective. Agreements must also be entered into freely and remain open to renegotiation. That's far better than simply having participants breaking the agreements!

Some helpful agreements include:

- Support the objective of the meeting by keeping discussion focused on relevant topics.
- Hold one conversation at a time, no side conversations.
- Respect the views of all participants. Honor points of view that are different than yours.
- Don't interrupt.
- Speak openly and honestly.
- Keep time schedules: Be on time, start on time, end on time.
- If you agree to something, fulfill it.
- Communicate immediately if you think you may not be able to fulfill an agreement.

Review the agreements at the beginning of the meeting, to see what applicable to this meeting.

Decision-making process.

Choose and communicate clearly about the decision-making process at the beginning of the meeting except if the process is standardly used.

- Autocratic, where a leader makes the decision.
- Democratic, where each participant votes and the majority rules.
- Consensus, where all members "consent" or agree to move forward before finalizing a decision.

Discussion-management process.

Start with clarity about who is to run the meeting and whether the leader will also act as the facilitator.

For meetings where you're facing especially difficult or contentious issues, try to bring in a neutral meeting facilitator to manage the discussion. This makes it more likely that you'll come to a decision, and also allows everyone to participate fully in the discussion.

Plan, discuss and assign roles.

Determining role assignments at the beginning engages everybody in the process and validates the expectations and contributions.

Who is to play the different roles ?

Facilitator
Recorder
Leader
Participants
Timekeeper (optional)

post-meeting communication.

Capturing and reporting key outcomes of the meeting are critical for follow-up activities. At a minimum, be sure to capture these items in your meeting notes:

  • Decisions
  • Action items
  • Open issues

Once the meeting has concluded, arrange for the recorder's notes to be posted or distributed to all participants.