Guide to Running Effective Meetings

Review and implement these eight tips for having meetings that are efficient and effective. As the facilitator for a meeting, you can set a positive tone, be inclusive, and empower all participants to be actively engaged.

  1. Thank everybody for coming. Show your appreciation for your volunteers coming and contributing their time and talent.
  2. Always have an agenda. Prepare an agenda for every meeting and share it via email at least a few days in advance of the meeting. Ask for feedback from other committee members and meeting attendees. The agenda should list key items for discussion.
  3. For ongoing projects, get updates before the meeting. Ask participants to email a short summary to the committee in the days leading up the meeting. Avoid spending meeting time sharing these updates. A committee member should read all these updates in advance and look for points that will require further discussion at the meeting.
  4. Set a time limit for each agenda item. Someone at the meeting should be responsible for keeping track of the time. Set an alarm if necessary. If it goes off and you still need more time, reset the alarm for a specific amount of time.
  5. Try to give everyone an opportunity to talk. Ask those who have been more silent for their opinions and ask people who speak a lot to give others opportunity to talk.
  6. Have roles assigned for each meeting.

    1. The Facilitator moderates the discussion, keeps the meeting at a reasonable length, and helps everyone participate.
    2. The Minute Taker notes meeting minutes, highlighting decisions made and assigned tasks. They don’t record all of the discussion in the minutes, just the outcomes. Save the minutes online in a wiki or Google Drive.
    3. The Task Manager assigns tasks using project management software, such as Basecamp. They will update that software as people are assigned tasks. This should be managed by someone who is not running the meeting, taking minutes, or timing each item.
    4. The Time Tracker assigns a time to each agenda item, tracks the time, and lets the group know when they have reached the time limit. This is especially useful for longer meetings or meetings that you suspect may go long.
  7. Bring food. Providing excellent vegan food at meetings is not only a great way to encourage attendance, but it’s also a chance for mutual learning around the subjects of about plant-based cooking, shopping, and nutrition. The meeting organizer can provide the food, or that role can be delegated to another meeting attendee. If the budget allows, offer to compensate the volunteer for the cost of ingredients.
  8. Don’t go too long. Most meetings should be under 90 minutes and never more than two hours. If your meetings are regularly going longer than this, you need to meet more often, discuss more things outside of meetings (such as via phone, email, or text), or consider splitting meetings into two subcommittees or subgroups.

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