Running a Meeting

Learning Objectives

Identify techniques to run an effective meeting.

A large group of people meeting around a conference tableRunning a meeting requires many of the skills we’ve been learning in this public speaking course. To run an efficient and productive meeting, you need to be aware of your audience, consider the communicative goals of the meeting (are you conveying information, making decisions, or building a stronger group?), structure the information to be delivered, listen actively, pay careful attention to time, and even ensure that accurate notes are taken.

Below are a few tips for running an effective meeting:

  • Stick to your schedule. Create an agenda that lays out everything you plan to cover in the meeting, along with a timeline that allots a certain number of minutes to each item, and email it to people in advance. Once you’re in the meeting, put that agenda up on a screen or whiteboard for others to see. This agenda keeps people focused.
  • Start on time, end on time. If you have responsibility for running regular meetings and you have a reputation for being someone who starts and ends promptly, you will be amazed how many of your colleagues will make every effort to attend your meetings. People appreciate it when you understand that their time is valuable. Another note on time: Do not schedule any meeting to last longer than an hour. Sixty minutes is generally the longest time workers can remain truly engaged.
  • Follow up. It’s quite common for people to come away from the same meeting with very different interpretations of what went on. To reduce this risk, email a memo highlighting what was accomplished to all who attended within 24 hours of the meeting. Document the responsibilities given, tasks delegated, and any assigned deadlines. That way, everyone will be on the same page.


At a meeting for a company, organization, or public entity, it is common (and often necessary) for a designated person to write down a record of what happened at the meeting. This record is known as the minutes of the meeting. Some minutes can be quite formal and detailed, recording the statements of each participant word-for-word. Others are more of an outline to keep track of anything that was decided, discussed, or resolved at the meeting. Generally speaking, minutes should include:

  • The name of participants
  • The agenda of the meeting
  • Calendar/due dates
  • Actions or tasks
  • The main points that were discussed during the meeting
  • Decisions made by the participants
  • A record of the most important points of this meeting
  • Decisions that still need to be made (unresolved questions)
  • Documents/images/attached files

Sample Minutes

ENGR 240 Team Meeting Minutes

Thursday Feb, 15, 2016

Cle A035, 3:30-4:45

Present: Jaime, Chris, Renee

Regrets: Jo (has the flu)

  • All team members have completed last week’s work plan (Jo emailed a report, as she is sick)
  • In the coming week, we plan to complete the following:
    Task Who will do it?
    1. Interview Facilities Management contact Renee
    2. Research bike share programs (Jo?)
    3. Design a survey/questionnaire Chris
    4. Do a site visit Jaime
  • Next meeting: next Thursday Feb 21, after class
  • Excellent progress during meeting; Jo will follow up on researching bike share programs.
  • Meeting adjourned 4:50

A note about taking minutes: if a group secretary or designated administrative support person is not taking minutes at every meeting, minutes are usually taken by a volunteer at the meeting. As a number of commentators have pointed out, there has long been a gender bias in how this task is distributed: generally speaking, women end up taking minutes more often than men.[1][2][3] Thus, it’s crucial to examine the delegation of tasks like taking minutes on your team to make sure the distribution is equitable and balanced.