Good Meetings Don’t Just Happen

A focus on three components:  preparation, the agenda, the meeting

I.  Preparation:  a sample of what should happen before most meetings. 

  • Reserve the room
  • Send out the agenda to remind participants of the meeting and what is planned
  • Identify who will take notes, lead the meeting, provide reports or activities, etc.
  • Contact everyone who needs to be there
  • Get supplies
  • Make sure your visual aids work
  • Make sure the room is set up
  • Make sure the room is accessible
  • Have name tags if people do not know each other
  • Have healthy snacks or drinks ready
  • Have the minutes or notes of the previous meeting run off and extra copies of the agenda
  • Make sure the agenda can be completed in the allotted time – are you realistic about the amount of work and the meeting length?
  • Only hold meetings that are necessary
  • Make copies


II. Agenda – a group’s road map from the beginning to the end, with all the steps in between for reaching the outcomes the group wants.

Information that needs to be on an agenda –

  • must:  what (the group), when, where, who and how, why
  • optional, but really nice:  purpose (why), who will do each item, who the leader, recorder

Look at any agenda to determine if you can answer these eight questions. 

  • What group is sponsoring the meeting?
  • When is it taking place?
  • Where will the people meet?
  • How long will it last?
  • Who is leading the meeting?
  • What work is being done?
  • How is it being done (what is being asked to be done)?
  • Who is recording the decisions – or who is the secretary?
  • What is the purpose of the meeting?


III. The meeting:  when meetings are fair, open and honest, the potential for constructive discussion and achieving desired outcomes increases.  Here is a list of things that should happen during each and every meeting 

  • Start on time
  • Provide an overview of what will be done
  • Introduce members and guests
  • Keep focused on agenda items, keep a list of new  items for the next meeting as needed
  • Follow the time commitments for each agenda item
  • Make sure that decisions are recorded
  • Honor the ground rules
  • Identify when the next meeting is happening
  • Identify agenda items for the next meeting
  • End on time


IV. After the meeting

  • The recorder or secretary compiles the meeting minutes or notes
  • Leftover agenda items are transferred to the next agenda
  • Distribute meeting notes
  • People who volunteered to do various tasks do them


Jane E Haskell, UMaine Cooperative Extension