How to Have an Effective Team Meeting

Reality Check:

Whenever I cover meeting management, I feel a need to apologize for telling people what they already know. Who has not heard you should have an agenda? Keep a task list? Record decisions?

Then I see when working with project teams when a meeting task is assigned; even though the teams know they are being watched (for instructional purposes) and even though we just finished discussing the need for meeting management, the teams go into their next meeting without an agenda, and no one writes anything down.

They spend the first half of the next meeting trying to remember what they agreed to at the last meeting. Usually, at least in workshops, people are willing to try using these techniques once they see how inefficient their meetings are. To my surprise, participants routinely rate this time as highly valuable. People often ask for extra copies of the Checklist: Running the Project Team Meeting to use in their team meetings, their other organizations, and volunteer groups. They complain about leaving their team meetings unsure whether decisions have been made because the group is allowed to move on in the agenda (if there is an agenda) without explicitly dispensing with the current agenda item.

The simple Checklists for Planning, Running and Following up After the Project Team Meeting described below save endless hours, but teams often resist using them. I have seen the best results when the team leader (or some other member of the team) makes a running joke out of sticking to the structure until it becomes second nature to the entire group.

Executive Exchange: Mike Cardus

What to do:

  1. Take time to plan the meeting
  2. Follow guidelines for running a productive meeting
  3. Don’t forget to follow up after the meeting.

Planning the Project Team Meeting

  • Be clear on the meeting objective or purpose.
  • Follow the worksheet below and the guidelines to prepare an agenda.
  • Ask for input on the agenda and make revisions as appropriate.
  • Identify who should attend the meeting and whether they are available for the date you have in mind.
Provide notice to attendees on these meeting aspects:

  • Date, time and length
  • Purpose
  • Location
  • Agenda
  • Attendees
  • How to prepare/what to bring
Prepare the meeting room in advance:

  • Enough Seats
  • Flip Chart
  • Markers
  • Masking Tape

Note: Involving attendees in planning the meeting (including setting the agenda) can increase their commitment to making the meeting work.

Sample Agenda Worksheet:





Desired Outcomes of the Meeting:

Bullet point the desired outcomes/objective of the meeting

  • Review Project Charter
  • Gain Agreement on Project Charter

Determine who is doing what in this meeting

Suggested Roles

Facilitator _______________________________________________________________

Time Keeper _____________________________________________________________

Scribe __________________________________________________________________

Participants ______________________________________________________________


Agenda Element Desired Outcome Method Responsible Party Time Allotted
Review agenda and ground rules Agreement on agenda and ground rules Discussion and consensus Sam and Team 5 min.
Review Business Case for Project Provide champion input of business case. Discussion and consensus Sam and Team 15 min.
Review Problem Statement for Project


Provide champion input on the problem statement Discussion and consensus Sam and Team 15 min.
Review Project Scope


Determine additional items for what is inside and outside the project scope


Scope exercise (IN/OUT exercise) Sam and Team 20 min.
Review Roles and Responsibilities Determine roles & responsibilities for Project Team


Discussion and consensus Sam and Team 10 min.
Review milestones for the project Gain agreement on the timeline and determine the amount of participation. Discussion and consensus Sam and Team 20 min.
Assign next steps Assign next steps to team members and needed follow-up Discussion and consensus Sam and Team 20 min.
Pluses / Deltas Determine what went well and what could be done differently at the next meeting.


Plus/Delta exercise Sam and Team 5 min.
Parking Lot

Significant items that came up that were off the meeting topic and need to be explored further

Ground Rules

Determined ground rules for the meeting and team.

Sample Ground Rules

  • Everyone participates
  • No sidebar conversations
  • We are equal in the room
  • Cell phones and other electronics on vibrate
  • Keep an open mind
  • Stick to the agenda
  • Use the tools are they are supposed to be used


Agenda Guidelines

  • Include the objective of the meeting
  • Allocate time for introductions of attendees
  • Set aside time to review and revise the agenda
  • Put agenda items in order and allocate time to items
  • Include action items from the last meeting that are to be agreed and discussed at this one; list items to which the team agreed and include who is responsible for each
  • Allocate time for “asides” from the last meeting as appropriate
  • Include time for setting agenda and logistics for the next meeting
  • Last agenda item should be evaluating the meeting


Running the Project Team Meeting

  • Post the agenda on a flipchart where participants can refer to it during the meeting.
  • Use a flipchart to help keep the group focused and to create a single, agreed-upon record.
  • Create an “asides or parking lot” list for discussion items that come up that are not on the agenda.
Dispense with each agenda item in one of these ways:

  • Reach a decision
  • Delegate item for further study
  • Put on next meeting agenda
  • Take issue off agenda
Keep a record of:

  • Key points covered
  • Decisions made
  • Action items
  • Persons responsible for each action item
  • Completion date for actions
Flipchart tips

  • Use speaker’s words
  • Write legibly
  • Summarize long ideas
  • Number and post pages
Evaluate the meeting, allowing attendees to

  • Comment on the value of the meeting
  • Suggest how the next meeting might be improved


Following up After the Project Team Meeting

Create and distribute a short-written record that includes:

  • Meeting date, purpose, attendees
  • Key points covered
  • Decisions made
  • Action items
  • Persons responsible for action items
  • Completion date for actions
  • Identify how to incorporate participant feedback on how to improve the next meeting… Then DO IT


Mike Cardus BNP Executive Exchange Facilitator

Some consultants feel as if they are heroes called in to fix something broken, like the knight on the horse. That is quite tragic – to treat people as if they are broken when the teams, leaders, and people have done so much to get to where they are. Mike forms a partnership with all clients to accept where you are, listen to what’s working and understand what isn’t to create a process with you to improve your company’s profitability. Learn more at –