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Planning and Leading Effective Meetings


Behavior analysts spend a great deal of time in meetings regardless of their specific professional role (e.g., academic, practice, administration), so effective meeting skills are important. Meetings can serve a variety of important purposes if they are planned and led well. However, many people are not explicitly taught how to plan or lead meetings effectively. The purpose of this paper is to describe the common purposes of meetings and to provide recommendations and tools for planning and leading effective meetings.

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Correspondence to Linda A. LeBlanc.

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Appendix A

Meeting planning, leading, and evaluation checklist

The leader should complete this form during planning and after the meeting occurs.

Appendix B

Meeting Agenda and Notes

The meeting leader should share this with participants prior to the meeting and use it as a template for notes.

Appendix C

Rules for Meeting Participation

Participants have responsibilities before and during a meeting, and a highly skilled participant can enhance the value of almost any meeting. The following rules provide guidance for effective meeting participation.

  1. 1.

    Review the meeting invitation and agenda in advance.

    • Be sure you know exactly where to go and when to get there.

    • Review any materials or complete any assigned tasks prior to the meeting.

  1. 2.

    Arrive promptly.

    • Arrive a few minutes prior to the start of the meeting and be ready to begin at the start time.

    • If you are unexpectedly late for a meeting, enter quietly without interrupting. Well-intended apologies further disrupt the meeting if it has already begun. Apologize for tardiness after the meeting instead.

  2. 3.

    Eliminate distractions.

    • Turn off cell phone alerts and ringer and computer notifications prior to entering the meeting.

    • Put away your phone and any materials that are not relevant to the meeting.

  3. 4.

    Present concisely and consider your audience.

    • If you present in the meeting, practice what you will say and ensure that you remain within your allotted time.

    • Consider your audience when creating your presentation to ensure that the material is concise and appropriate for the audience.

  4. 5.

    Actively participate.

    • Contribute to the discussion when appropriate. Avoid comments that are a repeat of information or points made by others.

    • If you are participating remotely, use the chat feature to alert the meeting leader if you wish to make a comment.

  5. 6.

    Reinforce the participation of others.

    • Listen and reinforce the contributions of others with smiles, nods, and praise comments (e.g., “Great idea!”).

  6. 7.

    Avoid interrupting.

    • Avoid interrupting others or apologize when it happens inadvertently (i.e., you began speaking at the same time).

    • Do not have side conversations with other participants during the meeting as this serves as a distraction and interrupts the main conversation.

  7. 8.

    Self-manage participation and interruptions.

    • Self-monitor the frequency and duration of participation to ensure that you do not over- or underparticipate.

    • Self-monitor interruptions. If you interrupt frequently, use a self-management plan (e.g., write down the idea as a replacement behavior, provide a signal to the meeting leader for a speaking opportunity, collect data, and set a goal for participation).

  8. 9.

    Volunteer for relevant tasks.

    • When tasks require volunteers, only volunteer if it is possible for you to complete the task in the time frame expected.

    • If any part of the task is unclear, ask for clarification before committing to the task.

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LeBlanc, L.A., Nosik, M.R. Planning and Leading Effective Meetings. Behav Analysis Practice 12, 696–708 (2019).

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  • Agenda
  • Meeting
  • Meeting facilitation
  • Meeting planning
  • Meeting effectiveness
  • Professional skills