7 Step Meeting Process

The 7 Step Meeting Process is a powerful framework for running efficient and effective meetings.

What is it?

The Seven Step Meeting Process is a methodology for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of meetings.

The meeting process adheres to the following timed agenda:

  1. Clarify Aim/Purpose
  2. Assign Roles
  3. Review Agenda
  4. Work through Agenda
  5. Review meeting record
  6. Plan Next Steps and Next Agenda
  7. Evaluate
What does this tool look like?
Images shows 7 Step Meeting Process
Why use this tool?

There are a variety of benefits to be derived from using the 7 Step Meeting Process:

  • “Ways of working” are clear for all members from the outset, providing clarity about roles and responsibilities.
  • Ownership for effective meeting outcomes is shared across the whole group.
  • Rotation of roles promotes group responsibility and supports personal development
  • The process helps to keep the group focussed and productive, maximising use of time for all group members.
  • The final evaluation step offers all participants an opportunity to support continuous improvement of the meeting process.
Where does this tool fit in the improvement journey?
Where this tool fits within the improvement journey
How to use it
  1. Clarify Aim/Purpose – It is very important, at the beginning of the meeting, to clarify and agree the purpose of the meeting.  This promotes focus and clarity in the event of conversation drift, or if members feel lost in the process.  There is also an opportunity here for introductions (new members/guest presenters) and for group members to highlight their reason for attendance.
  2. Assign Roles – There are 4 roles to be assigned:
    1. Leader – The team leader role is not intended to be a power position, but rather a functional one.  The leader can be the person who called the meeting, or can ask for a volunteer to lead the meeting.  It is also appropriate to rotate this role to support development of group members.  The leader’s role is to start the meeting, ensure that the agenda is followed with smooth transitions between agenda items and to conclude the meeting.
    2. Recorder – The recorder role is crucial to ensure that key ideas, themes and actions are recorded for all to see. Recording on flip charts around the meeting room is encouraged.  This means the notes are there for people to see and review before they add their thoughts.  This minimises duplication that often occurs because people are busy thinking and may miss a contribution someone has already made. It is also extremely useful for late arrivals: they can catch up via the notes, thereby avoiding the need for any recap.
    3. Timekeeeper –  The timekeeper keeps everyone on track with agreed timings for each agenda item, whilst also making appropriate contributions to any discussion.  Once timings have been agreed for each agenda item, the time keeper should follow a rule of 50%. If an agenda item has been allocated 10 minutes:
      -the timekeeper will call out “5 minutes left” at the halfway point,
      -then “two and a half minutes left”,
      -then “one-minute left”,
      -then “time!” 
      It is then the leader’s role to check-in with the group to ensure the agenda item is concluded, or to determine if more time needs to be allocated. Extra time can be borrowed from another item or tabled and discussed at a future meeting.  It is important for group members to understand that management of time is not the timekeeper’s responsibility.  It is the responsibility of the entire group.
    4. Facilitator – As much as possible the group should identify someone with accomplished facilitation skills for this role.  The role of facilitator can be challenging and may not be required for every group situation. The facilitator will observe the meeting progress ensuring that all participants have an opportunity to contribute and that the group remains focussed on the agenda and the process.
  3. Review Agenda and Times – This should be a quick review of proposed agenda items and clarification of late agenda submissions.  Best practice would be to ensure that all group members have an opportunity to contribute and agree agenda items beforehand.   Once the agenda items are agreed, a short time should be spent agreeing approximate time slots; this should take no more than a few minutes.  The group should avoid over analysis of time slots – these can be renegotiated throughout the meeting depending on progress.  You may also wish to agree timings prior to the meeting to save time in the meeting
  4. Work through Agenda – The majority of the meeting should be devoted to working through agenda items.  Steps 1 -3 and 5 -7 should take no longer than 5 minutes each, enabling an efficient, productive discussion focussed on the agenda items.
  5. Review meeting record – When the agenda items have been discussed, the leader should take the opportunity to quickly review what has been accomplished, the key actions and responsibility for follow-up.
  6. Plan Next Steps and Next Agenda – Based on what has been accomplished, the leader should ask the group to determine what the agenda items should be for the next meeting.  Consequently, the group should leave the meeting with a clear understanding of the purpose and focus of the next meeting.
  7. Evaluate – This final step supports the group to stay on track and improve future meetings.  There are 3 steps to evaluation.  Each group member should allocate a score ranging from 0 (worst meeting ever) to 10 (effective and efficient meeting where expectations were surpassed and progress was made).  People should write these down without conferring. The purpose of the scoring is to demonstrate the variation.  The next step is to ask each participant for “one thing they liked” about the meeting and “one thing that we could improve”.  This last question is extremely useful to suport continuous improvement of the meeting process.