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Tool 1: Conducting Effective Meetings

Humorist Dave Barry has said, "If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be 'meetings.'"

It is possible, however, to conduct effective meetings. If you plan for each of phases described here, your time and that of your members will be spent purposefully, and your meetings will contribute to the momentum of your initiative.

Phase 1: Planning

  • Decide the goal of the meeting
  • Do your homework
  • Decide who needs to be there
  • Plan with others
  • Take care in setting the agenda (good agendas count)

Phase 2: Setting up the meeting

  • Start and end on time
  • Sign attendees in
  • Have adequate space
  • Build in social time
  • Establish regular meeting cycles

Phase 3: Running the meeting

  • Do introductions
  • Get agreement on the agenda and rules
  • Keep the discussion on track
  • Watch the time
  • Summarize what you hear
  • Encourage participation
  • Use the power of your position wisely
  • Develop new leaders by rotating facilitators

Phase 4: Follow-up

  • Gather feedback from the group
  • Make follow-up calls
  • Summarize the meeting

Tool 2: Meeting Summary

Meeting summaries need not be fancy, but they should be an accurate and complete record in order to support the ongoing work of your initiative. The form of your meeting summary is up to you, but a summary sheet works well because of its clarity. If your members prefer a traditional minutes format that includes summary of discussions, you can still make sure to record the following key items.

Basic Information

Meeting of: (Name of your coalition, organization, subcommittee, etc.)
Date and Time: (Don't forget the year!)
Person Presiding:  
Persons Present:
[First and last names]

Decisions Made:


Don't forget to include the decision on when the next meeting will be (time and place)

Follow-Up Responsibilities

(who will do what by when)

Task Point Person(s) Due
Focus on action verbs - Arrange, call, send out, identify, etc. This could be an individual, group, or committee Specify a date if possible

Incomplete Items (next steps)

Task Point Person Due
Focus on action verbs again!