categories: communication
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November 19th, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

11 comments (+ Add)

Tips for Running the Effective Meeting

A skilled leader will effectively moderate and guide a meeting toward productive decisions and action. Here are a few tips I’ve learned.

  • Keep the discussion moving. You’ll want to maintain a sense of polite urgency. You want to push hard enough to keep the meeting moving but not too hard that you don’t allow time for adequate discussion and thoughtful consideration.
  • Encourage participation. Often the quiet attendees have the most to offer. They simply need some encouragement. Ask direct questions to keep everyone involved.
  • Compliment ideas and contributions. Whenever possible, make someone else look good in a meeting.
  • Press for a decision. Many meetings become a “talking circle.” People talk around the ideas, but never make any decisions. Press for decision.
  • Create an action plan. Once a decision is made, you’ll want to decide who does what.
  • Set deadlines. After each assignment is made, you’ll either want to set a deadline, or ask, “When do you think you can have this done?” Once a person commits, you’ll want to hold them to the deadline.
  • Plan your communication. Since you’ve intentionally kept your meeting on the smaller side, there will probably be several (or many) people who will need to know some of the content from the meeting. Ask “Who needs to know what?” Plan your communication strategy and execute it well.
  • Summarize the decisions made and the action plan. As you’re wrapping up the meeting, you’ll want to summarize what you’ve covered and who will take what action. Leave adequate time for a complete summary. (If the meeting is more formal, you’ll want to make sure someone takes good notes and distributes minutes.)


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  1. Nov 19, 2008 at 8:17 am


    Where were you 30 years ago when I was really getting started. No, don’t answer that! :) This is exceptional stuff. I hope all the young ones who read this really latch on. I could have been a so much better leader if I had had this practical advice. I can’t even say “I wish I had done this one more” because this post shows a glaring weakness in my ability to lead a meeting. I can say I am good at encouraging participation and complimenting ideas. But the others need work. Sanguines just naturally have trouble with some of this that is why it is so important to have the team. Thanks again for this and the previous posts.

  2. Nov 19, 2008 at 8:40 am

    craig - the point on planning your communication is golden and the most often missed piece in my limited experience.

    all too often impacted players, departments and resources are not even notified much less involved in the decisions that effect them most, until after it has already been initiatied. this kills morale and communicates a lack of value for staff and key servant leaders. it is particularly devastating when the representative leader at the meeting is not a strong advocate and jsut gives in to decisions that may not be in the best interest of those impacted and the ministry as a whole!

    craig - what does a typical communication strategy look like and consist of?

  3. Nov 19, 2008 at 9:25 am

    Great advise! This will really help me have more effective meetings. Thanks!!

  4. 5Judy
    Nov 19, 2008 at 10:11 am

    Really good today!

  5. Nov 19, 2008 at 10:27 am

    hey Craig,

    great article! you’re one of my favorite pastors and i’ve never ever been to oklahoma or any of lifechurch’s other locations (praise God for the internet!).

    but i was wondering how you suggest that leaders give their opinions/ideas in meetings on how to accomplish goals without seeming like a dictator, especially when the ideas given by others seem pretty good too.


  6. 7Mandi
    Nov 19, 2008 at 11:39 am

    This is really, really good stuff! It shows how skilled you are at leading meetings. All of these are great “golden rules”. It just takes time to get good at them! Some of these things you have to do in the moment, like creating an action plan can be challenging. As a “green” leader, it is sometimes difficult to keep the meeting going in the right direction and discern the best action plan immediately following the decision. I find this especially challenging if a new, great, idea is proposed. You haven’t had the opportunity to think through the results of the action plan to see if it is a good one or not. Do you think it’s ok to shelf the final action plan in this scenario until you process the what ifs?

  7. Nov 21, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    [...] Groeschel on Running an effective meeting [...]

  8. Nov 23, 2008 at 10:38 pm


    These are great tips. Personally I try to avoid meetings at all costs if possible especially if I’m the so-called leader! So much of traditional “meeting time” is actually a time-sink for most people around the table and can be an addictive way to just look busy in some organizations.

    Especially for people that are tech-savvy and used to working virtually, physical meetings sometimes are viewed not only as calendar-munching-monsters eating up valueable work hours, but also counter-productive if you don’t have the right people in the room (decision makers, real stake holders, etc).

    Here’s some other tips I’ll contribute to your list:

    1) Make sure you know what the purpose of the meeting is — as well as everyone that is in the room. Just like a vision for a ministry or church, each meeting needs to have clarity of purpose in order to get everyone working in the same direction.

    2) Invite only those people that are really necessary. Group dynamics can get funky when the # of participants gets larger than necessary. Sometimes groups adopt positions and decisions that they would not have alone or with a small group of cohorts.

    3) Flip side of #2, invite the crucial people to the meeting. Have you ever been to meetings where the actual decision maker(s) weren’t present, but you continue anyway? The conversations are then based on a lot of assumptions. And then there’s no closure at the end of the meeting and everything is based on what-if’s and best-guesses. Usually, they are not right which is the cause for another meeting.

    4) Follow-up about the follow-ups. If you have a meetign with X number of people and then ask them what happened and what’s the next step, you’ll probably get either X answer or X+___ answers! I’ve found it effective as the leader to send a quick bullet item summary of actions steps with names / dates assigned to each item so that everyone understands who’s responsible. This is where discrepancies will show up in a reply back to you. Better to hammer these out right after the meeting vs. at the start of the next meeting.

    5) Culture. Each group, even if it’s a 1-time meeting takes on a life of its own. It’s up to you to set the tone and culture of the meeting. Hit hard, hit fast and be relentless. You want to set-up an environment that is productive, optimistic, and comfortable. Usually it’s a good idea to encourage an environment that embraces a no-penalty zone for at least part of the meeting where people are not afraid to contribute “BIG IDEAS”. By making it know that you expect more from your typically boring old meeting, sometimes you get surprised with some outrageous, creative ideas that really shows everyone how great of a team you have.

    Those are my $0.02 for now.

    To Your Success,

  9. Nov 25, 2008 at 8:48 am

    [...] for thanksgiving week. it was inspired in part by swerve’s recent posts: here, here, here and here. Patrick Lencioni is also worth a mention. good [...]