One of the main reasons why students find working in groups difficult is that they were not taught to interact effectively in a team setting. Meetings are key events during group work, and there are several techniques for running effective meetings. This tip sheet offers strategies that you can share with your students when preparing them to meet with their teammates. You can also help by teaching skills that will help students manage group dynamics and have a positive teamwork experience.
Skills that students need to develop to promote effective group work:
- Active and tolerant listening
- Respect for others' contributions
- Helping others to master content
- Giving and receiving constructive feedback
- Managing disagreements
- Keeping deadlines
Planning and running a meeting
Note: Some of the following steps might not be relevant to your meeting context. Include the steps in your planning and running processes as you see fit.
Steps that should be taken before a meeting happens:
Before planning and preparation can occur, you need to establish a group leader. An instructor might choose to assign group roles, including leader, or encourage students to choose group roles. If possible, instructors should allocate class time to this process.
- Plan the meeting carefully: who, what, when, where, why, and how many.
- Prepare and send out an agenda, identifying issues to be discussed.
- Set up meeting room and send out background information about members. If meeting virtually, consider doing a trial run of any meeting technology you have not used before.
Steps that should be taken during a meeting:
- Start on time.
- Have group members introduce themselves.
- Clearly define roles. (See below: Group roles.)
- Review, revise, and order the agenda.
- Set clear time limits on agenda items.
- Review action items from previous meeting.
- Focus on one issue at a time.
Steps that should be taken at the end of and after a meeting:
- Record final decisions and action items.
- Assign tasks to group members.
- Set deadlines for the tasks.
- Set the date and place of the next meeting and develop a preliminary agenda.
- Evaluate the meeting and get feedback from members.
- Close the meeting positively.
- Clean up the room.
- Prepare the group memo and distribute to members and others who need to know.
Different roles group members may play during a meeting:
- Note taker
- Devil's advocate
- Progress chaser
For more details on some different roles, see CTE Teaching Tip: Group Work: Assignment of Roles.
Important tasks that should be performed by the facilitator of a meeting:
- Encouraging participation
- Summarizing input
- Discouraging domination
- Encouraging decision making
- Keeping group focused
- Making final decisions, if necessary
- Clarifying ideas
- Delegating roles and tasks
- Providing feedback
- Keeping the peace
- Energizing group members
Activities and tools that can be used in a group meeting for:
- List available resources.
- State different perceptions of the real problem.
- Brainstorm ideas – all ideas are encouraged and accepted.
- Legitimize – show an understanding of how others see the problem.
- Kickstart with an example.
- Propose some potential solutions.
- Ask each individual for a possible solution.
Narrowing down the solutions
- Evaluate solutions using some criteria.
- Make sure solutions address the issues.
- Rank ideas in order of priority.
- Categorize solutions.
- Separate solutions based on “pros/cons”.
- Look for redundant and overlapping ideas.
Closing the discussion
- Majority voting
- Build-up/eliminate: Add or subtract from different options to arrive at a new option that everyone can support.
- Combine ideas: Avoid either/or decisions.
If you would like support applying these tips to your own teaching, CTE staff members are here to help. View the CTE Support page to find the most relevant staff member to contact.
Eberly Center – Carnegie Mellon University (n.d.). What are the challenges of group work and how can I address them? Retrieved July 6, 2023, from
CTE Teaching Tips
- UWaterloo’s Student Success Office – How to navigate group projects effectively
- UWaterloo’s Office of Academic Integrity - Group Work
This Creative Commons license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon our work non-commercially, as long as they credit us and indicate if changes were made. Use this citation format: Meeting Strategies for Group Work. Centre for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo.