Conducting Effective Meetings


I’ve seen several processes for conducting effective meetings. None of them have included a comprehensive view of what to do before, during, and after the meeting. All of those pieces are critically important to a successful meeting. Based on what I’ve seen and learned, I offer the following process:

Before the Meeting:


  • Identify the purpose of the meeting
  • Define expected outcomes
  • Identify required participants
  • Identify methods (e.g. brainstorming)
  • Select a suitable meeting room
  • Identify other resources needed
  • Define the agenda
  • Select a template for the minutes


  • Send an invitation (include purpose and agenda)
  • Consider any legal issues
  • Contact security
  • Make read-ahead material available
  • Set up the room

During the Meeting:


  • Check-in participants
  • Distribute copies
  • Start on time
  • Make sure everyone knows each other
  • Clarify roles
  • Review evacuation procedures
  • Review agenda
  • Review expected outcomes
  • Review ground-rules
  • Review open action items
  • Review open issues


  • Cover one agenda item at a time
  • Manage the discussion to stay on point within the time allotted
  • Use a “parking lot” to record off-agenda topics
  • Re-prioritize when necessary
  • Record assigned action items
  • Record issues
  • Record significant decisions


  • Summarize decisions
  • Review action items assigned during the meeting
  • Solicit agenda items for the next meeting
  • Review time and place for the next meeting
  • Evaluate the meeting
  • Thank the participants
  • End on time

After the Meeting:


  • Distribute or post meeting minutes within 24 hours of the meeting
  • File related documents in the team repository
  • Perform on assignments and action items and report to the team
  • Schedule follow-up on “parking lot” items

I’ve referred to this process as the three Ps and three Cs. The Ps are before (Plan and Prepare) and after (Post-Meeting) and the Cs are during the meeting (Commence, Conduct, and Close).

Not every step applies to every meeting, but I will guarantee that every step should be considered for every meeting.

There are a wide range of purposes for conducting a meeting. No matter which purpose, one thing’s for sure: you don’t go to meeting just to go to meetings. I like the saying that “I go to hours of meetings and all I get is minutes.” Meetings, done correctly, should be part of doing the work. If that’s not why you’re having a meeting then rethink whether you really need a meeting.

Stephen P. (Steve) Czerniak

About the author: Mr. Czerniak retired after a successful career that culminated in fifteen years of experience as an internal consultant and “change agent.” He is currently a volunteer at the Macomb-Oakland University INCubator and the Troy Historic Village and Society. 

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