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How to run a debriefing meeting

A debriefing meeting should be run by reviewing the project or task outcomes in comparison to the goals set, discussing what worked well and what didn’t, and planning for future improvements based on the lessons learned.

A debriefing meeting is a gathering of individuals who have recently completed a project, task, or activity, with the purpose of reviewing and discussing the outcomes, successes, challenges, and lessons learned. It is an opportunity to reflect on the process, evaluate the results, and identify areas for improvement or future actions. The meeting aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of the project, allowing participants to share feedback and insights, and ultimately enhance the organization’s performance and decision-making processes.

What is the purpose of a debriefing meeting?

The purpose of running a debriefing meeting as a leader is to evaluate the performance of a project or team. By reflecting on the successes and areas for improvement, leaders can gather valuable insights to enhance future endeavors. It fosters open communication, encourages learning, and establishes a culture of continuous improvement within the organization.

How to run a debriefing meeting: Step-By-Step


Step 1: Preparation

During this phase, the meeting organizer conducts research, collects relevant data, establishes objectives for the debriefing, and determines the key participants. An essential task at this stage is preparing a detailed agenda that outlines the topics and activities to be covered in the meeting.

Our platform, ZipDo, is designed to ease the preparation of team meetings. By providing a centralized repository for all information from previous meetings, meeting leads can effortlessly access agendas and notes. This streamlined process helps in covering all essential topics without fail.

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Step 2: Scheduling

During this phase, the organizer meticulously selects the most suitable date, time, and location for the meeting. The availability of all participants is taken into account to ensure maximum participation and productivity.

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Step 3: Communication

The meeting organizer sends out clear and concise communication to all participants, providing details on the debriefing meeting’s timing, location, and objective, ensuring everyone is well-informed and aware.

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Step 4: Starting the Meeting

Start the meeting by providing an introduction, restating the purpose and objectives, and giving participants a brief agenda overview to ensure everyone is aligned and aware of what is to be discussed and achieved.

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Step 5: Applying Ground Rules

In order to create a productive and respectful environment during the meeting, it is important to establish clear ground rules. These can include time management, speaker recognition, and the expectation of listening without interruptions, among other guidelines.

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Step 6: Review of Activities or Projects

In this step, provide a comprehensive overview of the project or tasks undertaken, emphasizing the actions taken, the methods used, and the key stakeholders involved.

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Step 7: Gathering Feedback

During project or task discussions, participants actively contribute by sharing their valuable observations, experiences, and opinions. It is essential to create an inclusive environment where every participant’s voice is heard, fostering effective collaboration and a well-rounded outcome.

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Step 8: Analysis of Feedback

After gathering feedback from participants, the facilitator compiles and analyzes the data, creating an open dialogue that fosters deeper discussion and exploration of the feedback received.

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Step 9: Identify Lessons Learned

During the team discussion, both areas of improvement and success are analyzed to extract valuable lessons. These insights will prove beneficial for upcoming projects or activities, ensuring continuous growth and success.

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Step 10: Action Planning

Create a comprehensive list of actionable steps based on feedback and lessons learned. Clearly assign responsibilities and set deadlines for each action item to ensure accountability and progress.

Questions to ask as the leader of the meeting

1. What were the main goals and objectives of the project or activity?
Explanation: This question helps to establish the purpose and expectations of the project, ensuring that everyone is aligned and has a clear understanding of what was intended to be achieved.

2. What were the key successes or accomplishments during the project/activity?
Explanation: This question highlights the positive outcomes, enabling the team to recognize their achievements and build on them in future projects.

3. What were the main challenges or obstacles we faced?
Explanation: This question allows the team to identify the hurdles they encountered, understand their impact, and explore potential solutions to overcome similar challenges in the future.

4. How effective was our communication and collaboration?
Explanation: This question assesses the team’s ability to communicate and work together, identifying any breakdowns or areas for improvement in order to enhance future collaborations.

5. What lessons did we learn throughout the project/activity?
Explanation: This question encourages reflection on the experiences gained, providing an opportunity to capture valuable insights and knowledge that can be applied to future endeavors.

6. Did we adhere to the set timeline and budget? If not, what were the reasons?
Explanation: This question evaluates project management effectiveness and helps to identify any issues that caused deviations from the planned timeline or budget. Understanding the reasons behind any variances can inform future planning.

7. How did the project/activity impact our stakeholders or target audience?
Explanation: This question explores the outcomes and effects on the intended recipients, enabling the team to assess the success of their efforts in fulfilling stakeholder needs and expectations.

8. What improvements can we make in our processes or strategies?
Explanation: This question encourages the team to think critically about ways to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, and overall performance for future similar projects.

9. What feedback or suggestions do team members have for each other?
Explanation: This question prompts team members to provide constructive feedback and suggestions, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and mutual support.

10. What action steps should we take moving forward based on the insights gained?
Explanation: This question ensures that the lessons learned are translated into actionable steps and helps in developing a plan to implement the recommended improvements and capitalize on successes.

To prepare a debriefing-meeting agenda as a leader, start by identifying the objectives of the meeting and the key topics to be discussed. Consider the time allotted and prioritize the most critical issues. Break down the agenda into sections, allowing for input from team members. Lastly, distribute the agenda in advance to ensure everyone is prepared and can contribute effectively.

How To Prepare For A Debriefing Meeting
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During a debriefing meeting, it is crucial to discuss the key points and outcomes of a project or event, analyze any challenges or issues faced, identify successful strategies and lessons learned, evaluate the team’s performance, and establish future action plans. Additionally, it’s important to address any unresolved concerns or questions, gather feedback from team members, and provide recognition and appreciation for individual and collective contributions.

See Our Debriefing Meeting Template
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Software tools to facilitate a debriefing meeting

Software helps leaders run debriefing meetings by providing an organized and efficient platform to manage the process. It allows for easy scheduling, agenda creation, and document sharing, ensuring that all team members are prepared and engaged. Furthermore, software enables real-time collaboration, tracking of action items, and data analysis, enabling leaders to make informed decisions and drive continuous improvement.

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In conclusion, conducting debriefing meetings is a crucial aspect of running a successful business or project. These meetings provide a platform for team members to reflect on their performance, identify areas of improvement, and celebrate their successes. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can ensure that your debriefing meetings are purposeful, effective, and productive. Remember, open communication, active listening, and a solutions-oriented mindset are key to a successful debriefing meeting. So, take the time to plan and execute these meetings regularly, and watch as your team grows, develops, and achieves greater success.

Jannik Lindner

I'm Jannik and I write on MeetingFever about the experiences from my career as a founder and team lead.

If you have any questions, please contact me via LinkedIn.

Popular Questions

What is a debriefing meeting?

A debriefing meeting is a discussion that happens after a project or event has concluded. It aims to analyze what happened, why it happened, and how to improve in the future. This could include assessing whether the goals and objectives were met or not, examining what worked well, and identifying the areas for improvement.

Who should be present at a debriefing meeting?

Generally, everyone who was involved in the project or event should be present at a debriefing meeting. This could include team members, project managers, and stakeholder representatives. It’s important to involve everyone, as different perspectives can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of the successes and challenges faced.

When should a debriefing meeting be held?

A debriefing meeting should ideally be held as soon as possible after the conclusion of a project or event, while the details and experiences are still fresh in everyone’s minds. However, it is also important to ensure that participants have enough time to gather their thoughts and prepare for the meeting.

How long should a debriefing meeting typically last?

The length of a debriefing meeting can depend on the size and complexity of the project or event that has taken place. However, most debriefing meetings typically last between 1 to 2 hours. It’s important to make sure that there is enough time to discuss key points, without having the meeting drag on for too long.

Why are debriefing meetings important?

Debriefing meetings are important because they allow a team to reflect on and analyze a project’s successes and failures. They provide an opportunity for team members to communicate and share their perspectives, which can help to increase understanding, improve future planning and decision-making, and stimulate learning and growth.

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