Meeting Skills

Meetings can be energizing, productive, and fun! It turns out that efficient and effective meetings are also inclusive and respectful meetings. Often, all it takes is one person with some simple meeting skills to change a meeting from frustrating and inefficient to enjoyable and efficient.

We teach a Meeting Skills class that explains how to prepare and run a meeting effectively and inclusively. This includes skills like:

  • How to get people to spend less time on laptops and phones
  • Why to prepare (and use) an agenda
  • How to use meeting roles such as facilitator, note-taker, gatekeeper, and timekeeper
  • Why to take minutes and distribute them afterwards
  • How to stop people from talking for too long
  • How to help people be heard

Meeting Skills can be presented as a 1 hour talk or a 2 hour interactive class. This video shows the one hour talk, as given to the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco.

Meeting role cards

One way to encourage productive, inclusive, enjoyable meetings is to print and use meeting role cards, as pioneered by the Ada Initiative. Each of the four crucial meeting roles – facilitator, note-taker, gatekeeper, and timekeeper – are described on each card, along with helpful example phrases for the person filling that role to use. Print out the cards and place them in each room where a meeting will be happening (at your office or at an unconference) and instruct people to distribute the cards to people in the meeting before starting the meeting.

Note: You will need to edit the Note-taker card to add instructions on where to create and send or link to the meeting notes. We recommend printing on semi-stiff paper stock like posterboard or cardboard.

Role cards source (ODT/DOC format) (PDF preview)

Example role card: Gatekeeper

Postcard-sized summary of the gatekeeper role in a meeting