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Meeting with Purpose

Conducting efficient and purposeful meetings is an essential part of cross-departmental collaboration and project management. The “Meeting with Purpose” campaign intends to promote guiding principles, guidelines, and phraseology for conducting meetings that reinforce roles and responsibilities, actions, and clear communication of objectives. The measurement of success of this campaign will be more productive meetings that lead to more efficient completion of cross-departmental and inter-departmental projects.


The following suggestions are intended to establish a common lexicon for City of San Rafael staff to encourage and reinforce timely and effective meetings.

The Basic Principles

  1. Does this need to be a meeting?
  2. What is the Purpose of Meeting?
  3. Take initiative.
  4. Set an Agenda (estimate discussion time for each item)
  5. Stay on Topic and on Time.
  6. End with Actions.
  7. Follow Up.

Tips for Conducting Successful Meetings

  • Consider the use of everyone’s time. Can the team communicate/collaborate via email, phone conference, or other tools to move the project forward at this time?
  • Define the purpose of your meeting. In order that everyone’s time is respected, narrow the focus to allow for tangible outcomes.
  • What do you hope to get out of this meeting?
  • Keep your calendar up to date! (Consider blocking out time on either side of meeting for travel and sanity.)
  • Use Outlook Calendar invitations to schedule your meetings
  • Include information about the purpose of the meeting and proposed agenda in the body of the invite.
  • Identify in the Outlook invite who is a required attendee and who is optional.
  • Assign any pre-meeting tasks to attendees in the body of the invite.
  • Keep your calendar up-to-date so your co-workers can schedule without asking your availability.
  • Meetings need structure. Spend a few minutes putting together an agenda for your meeting.
  • Send out the agenda prior to the meeting and include it in the invite.
  • Begin meetings promptly. Everyone’s time is precious, respect attendees’ time and keep meetings to the agreed upon timeline.
  • It’s easy to digress, make sure the group gets back on task when the conversation strays off topic.
  • Every meeting should end with clear actions with well-defined responsibilities.
  • Spend the last 5-10 minutes of the meeting discussing action items.
  • The Project Manager, or other designated role, should send a follow up email within 24 hours of the meeting recapping action items from the meeting and next steps.
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