Over the last two years, our team has grown from 4 to 9. We have more people, more projects, and more work – all while maintaining a horizontal structure! It has been exciting, but it has also meant that our staff meetings became long, packed, and sometimes draining. So, earlier this year, we came up with a checklist for preparing our staff meetings. They are simple solutions, but they help our meetings run much more smoothly.
Before we jump in to the checklist, we thought we would share how we divide up the roles in our meetings.
- Facilitator: responsible for the meeting flow, helping good decisions happen in a good way, opening and closing the meeting
- Time keeper (this person keeps an eye on the time and helps the facilitator keep track of when we need to move to the next item)
- Meta: this person observes the group dynamics and lets us know if things are getting too off track, if people seem too tired to participate, etc. They also give us an overall impression of the meeting dynamics at the end of the meeting.
- Land acknowledgement: we try to get better at land acknowledgements by practicing them in our staff meetings. People sign up beforehand so they can prepare adequately.
- Minute taker. Sometimes, we have several people share this role, as it can get very tiring!
There are lots of way you can divide up the roles in your meetings- recently, we heard that Projet Harmonie has a “catalyzer” – someone who helps the group get from discussion to decision. But shared responsibility for the meetings goes a long way to having good meetings in your organization.
A Checklist for Preparing Better Meetings
7 days before the meeting:
- Remind everyone that there will be a meeting and to put their items on the agenda
2-3 days before the meeting:
- Remind everyone that there will be a meeting and to put their items on the agenda, and to clarify whether their item is Informational, for Discussion, for Decision, or for Action
- Check in with everyone to talk about the proposed items, and make sure you are able to facilitate the discussion around them:
- Who is impacted by this item? Are the people most impacted able to be at the meeting?
- Do we have enough information and context to bring this item in a clear way, so the discussion can be good?
- Who should be consulted on this before we bring the discussion to the whole team?
- If it is a decision, has it already been brought to the team for discussion at a previous meeting? (This is a rule we instated, as often as possible, so that we don’t feel like we are taking rushed decisions)
- Is there anything people should read before the meeting and have they been reminded of that? Do we have the documentation we need to have the conversation?
- How long should this item take?
- Looking at the answers to the previous questions, does the point need to be brought to the team at this time? Is there a better way to move this item forward?
1 day before the meeting
- Organize our google doc where we take minutes and have meeting our agendas
- Revisit the agenda make sure that:
- adequate time is allotted to each item and that the items overall fit into the meeting time available
- Check the minutes for any follow up items and make sure they are at the top of the agenda
- There is a good flow between items (by topic or by size) and there is a break scheduled
The day of the meeting
- Make sure the space is ready for the meeting (the projector is on and working, there is a laptop for the minute taker, there is water)
- Write the agenda on physical paper as well
- Warn colleagues the meeting is starting ten minutes beforehand
- Put the office phones on silent
Other Resources on Team Meetings
- A number of years back, we created this resource on making meetings where people don’t share a mother tongue more inclusive. You should definitely check that out!
- We also have this resource about consensus decision making – although, like most things meeting, it is useful for any kind of collaborative decision making!