by Lisa Grimaldi | February 01, 2005

The following checklist was adapted in part from The Complete Handbook of Business Meetings by Eli Mina (AMACOM;


  • Does every agenda item or session fit within the group’s operating philosophy as well as the overall purpose of the meeting? 
  • Is the issue to be presented for discussion, decision-making or for information only? 
  • Is the issue timely for this meeting? 
  • What research or other supporting materials will be necessary to adequately address the issue? Is there enough time to prepare these materials? 
  • Determine who will present information and take questions. If necessary, assign people to specific tasks. 
  • Determine how much time to allot for each item. Allocate less time for routine agenda topics; conversely, allow more time for items that might provoke debate.
  • Pacing

  • Schedule routine items for the beginning of the meeting. 
  • Leave ample time for issues requiring a vote or decision, to ensure completion. 
  • Schedule agenda items requiring creativity for the morning, when concentration is at its highest. Avoid addressing these topics immediately after lunch, when people are more apt to be sluggish. 
  • Intersperse substantive items with lighter ones to avoid attendee burnout. 
  • If the schedule lasts all day, allow for ample break time so attendees can check voice- and e-mail. 
  • Leave time at the end of the meeting to discuss new business or to accommodate any issues that exceeded their designated time. 
  • Number each agenda item to facilitate minute-taking and future references to the specific issues. 
  • Include question-and-answer sessions after speaker segments, to enable attendees to interact with the presenter.
  • Mixing up Formats
    Consider adapting any of the following elements.

  • Begin the session with an icebreaker, or arrange for a comedic sketch facilitated by a professional. 
  • Schedule a keynote speech that solidly addresses the group’s overall operating principles. Consider using a  guest speaker rather than internal management.
  • Arrange for small group discussions, rather than one large session, on pressing issues. Have the groups present their findings in a session held toward the end of the meeting. 
  • Schedule a strategically timed refreshment break to encourage attendee networking and further discussion of the issues that were presented during the session.
  • If the schedule is too tight to allow for attendee interaction, hold a networking session at the end of the day.
  • Getting Input
    Solicit feedback from attendees both before and after the meeting to encourage their involvement and integrate valuable ideas into the program. Some questions to ask:

  • How can we serve members/customers/employees better? 
  • What creative fund-raising methods should we consider? 
  • How can we keep members/customers better informed of new initiatives?
  • How can we collaborate with similar organizations to help further our goals? 
  • How can we improve communication with the community, the news media and the general public? 
  • How can we capitalize on the skills, knowledge and experience of staff and volunteers? 
  • In what manner should achievements and contributions be recognized? 
  • What can be done to facilitate the exchange of member/employee feedback? 
  • How can we enhance the overall quality of meetings?