Administrative Support – How to Manage a Meeting

A dear friend and true expert, Dr. Eleanor Henry, writes on how to manage meetings. 

By Dr. Eleanor Henry

“Last week’s meeting would have started on time, but the starting time wasn’t emailed out until one hour before, so the participants, the few which showed up, straggled in and began work 15 minutes late. The room was hot and muggy from a recent air conditioner breakdown. The chair opened the meeting but the minutes from the meeting before were not done so the participants could not approve the old minutes. Also, no one remembered all of the open action items. It didn’t matter because 7 people were required for a quorum and only 6 attended. The agenda wasn’t complete and the read-aheads that the briefers provided were not distributed before hand. Others wanted to call in but could not because no one had arranged a dial-in link.  Even if there had been, the racket from hammers and drills of people trying to fix the air conditioning in the other room was nearly deafening. The briefer struggled to make himself heard above the din. The computer, slide projector and screen hadn’t been set up and no copies of the slides were available, so the attendees huddled around the briefer’s 15 inch computer screen. At least they could hear him better.”

The story above is a combination of events from meetings in the past year. Anyone in business, or really in any organization, spends a lot of time in meetings. Some are short and others long; some are productive and some seem worthless. Leaders want their meetings to have a specific and measurable goal, to accomplish that goal, and to be only as long as required to achieve their objective. The post Making Meetings Matter has been very well received, and its lessons have proven effective, but it only tells part of the story. The people in charge of administrative support have as important a role as the chair in making meetings matter.

Dr. Eleanor Henry is a retired Army nurse and contractor with Booz-Allen-Hamilton who works in my directorate. She has put together an excellent guide for administrative personnel who are charged with making meetings matter, and has allowed me to post her work below.

How to Manage a Recurring Meeting – A Checklist

Time frame


One week before the meeting

o  Meet with meeting organizer to

Develop the attendee list

Verify if type of meeting (in person vs. Video teleconference (VTC) vs. Telecom)

Determine the appropriate venue for type and number of attendees

Determine if those who RSVP “no” should be required to send a representative in their stead

Determine if refreshments will be served, and payment source for them

o  Reserve venue 30 minutes before the meeting to allow for room set-up

o  Reserve venue 20 minutes after meeting to allow for breakdown and cleanup

o  Arrange for VTC or telecom

o  Arrange for IT support if VTC is requested,

o  Arrange for access to base for attendees without CAC

o  Arrange for parking for senior attendees

o  Send out evite: body of the message should notify invitees that materials will be attached to the evite

o  Edit the attendee sign in sheet to reflect changes in invitees, if any

o  Manage Briefs as they are submitted

Acknowledge emails from invitees

Rename meeting documents according to naming convention

Drop briefing materials into the desktop file you created previously

o  Manage refreshments, if any

Order refreshments

Request delivery 1 hour before meeting

Three working days before the meeting

o  Attach all meeting materials to the evite

·      Dial-in information

·      Agenda

·      Meeting Summary

o  Send updated evite

o  Notify organizer of RSVP status of Invitees who have

·      Accepted

·      Declined (determine if those who have declined should send an alternate)

·      Not responded

·      Been added-on by having the evite forwarded to them

o  Contact declining attendees to ask for alternate, if appropriate

o  Send evite to alternates for declining attendees

o  Ask the organizer about any special issues s/he anticipates will arise during the meeting, and what s/he wants you to do about them

o  Using the agenda as a basis, prepare your note taking materials

o  Finalize payment arrangements for refreshments

Day before the meeting

o  Send reminder to those who will be attending in person to print out their own materials ++++OR ++++ Print out the materials as directed by the meeting organizer

o  Print out the attendee sign in sheet

o  Print out the VTC information as an emergency reference

o  Arrange for a voice recorder for use during the meeting

Check the batteries

Make sure the recorder is operational and you know how to use it

o  Prepare your laptop for use during the meeting

o  Prepare your paper file and have it available to carry to the meeting

One hour prior to meeting

o  Accept delivery and pay for refreshments

o  Set up refreshments

Thirty minutes prior to meeting

o  Arrange for admission and escort of visitors who do not have access to venue

o  Set up the voice recorder

o  Boot up the laptop

o  Open all meeting documents on your laptop

o  Check to see if documents will be projected properly

o  Check to see if VTC working

o  Check to see if telecom working

Fifteen  minutes prior to meeting

o  Select a seat at the table where you can make eye contact with the meeting chair

o  Remind the chair that you will be helping to keep the agenda on time

o  Arrange for signals you can use to communicate related to time keeping

During the meeting

o  Circulate the sign-in sheet and assure all attendees have signed it

o  If the group is chartered, assure there is a quorum of voting members specified in the charter

o  Make on-the-spot corrections to the minutes and documents as required by the chair

o  Display meeting documents as required throughout the meeting

o  Capture important discussion points

o  Capture all due outs, including

·      The deliverable

·      Responsible action officer

·      Due date

o  When required by the chair, summarize the due-outs for the attendees

o  Ask for clarification as required

Immediately after  the meeting

o  Meet with the chair to determine any actions immediately required

o  Ask for feedback about the administrative support your provided

o  Breakdown and clean up

Day after the meeting

o  Convert the sign in sheet to a .pdf file

o  Upload to the SharePoint location the following

.pdf of sign-in sheet

Meeting entire file folder and all contents

Voice recording of meeting

o  Create a new meeting file folder for use during the next meeting

Two days after the meeting

o  Prepare a draft of the meeting minutes

o  Determine which agenda items need to be included on the next agenda

o  Draft the next agenda

Three days after the meeting

o  Proof and spell check the draft minutes and agenda

o  Email to the meeting organizer the following documents

Draft meeting summary

Draft agenda

One week after the meeting

o  Confer with meeting organizer to finalize agenda

o  Create a checklist of people who will be briefing

o  Send personal emails to all those on the agenda

Confirm the title of their presentation and the amount of time they have been given

Request their briefing material and specify a due date one week in advance

Offer your assistance in preparing for their presentation

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