How often do you attend meetings that run too long, are dispiriting, lack organization or seem to be entirely pointless? Bad meetings waste time, wear people down, cause lack of attendance, and often result in decisions that lack overall buy-in for ultimate success. And even worse, we have come to accept bad meetings as part of normal operating procedures.


It’s very likely that if you aren’t putting energy and time into planning and holding productive meetings, then chances are your projects outside the board room lack effectiveness.


Here are a few important strategies to improve your meeting effectiveness:


  1. Participants should be reminded at least one week in advance with an announcement that includes the purpose, a draft agenda, location, start and end times, minutes from the previous meeting, and a recap of action items.

  2. –  If a vote is needed, ensure the necessary number of board members will be present.

    –  If the meeting is not about lobbying or soliciting donations, ensure the refuge manager and the Service liaison receive an invitation.


  3. Start on time, stick to the agenda and end on time.

  4. Jointly develop a set of ground rules and review them prior to the start of every meeting.

  5. Silence does not mean consent. Ask every attendee for his/her opinion prior to making a decision.

  6. Capture decisions and action items in writing. Ensure that the notes are sent out within a week of the meeting.

  7. Five minutes before the meeting is scheduled to end, summarize decisions, set a date for the next meeting, draft an agenda for the next meeting, and evaluate the meeting by asking participants what went well and where improvements could be made.

For additional help and resources, feel free to contact Joanna at 703-358-2392 or Joanna_Webb@fws.gov. Joanna is national Friends and partners coordinator for the Refuge System.