This is the second post in my blog replay for 2011. This entry was originally posted on April 20, 2011.
Let’s face it. Meetings are a part of every ministry. They can be very productive and helpful. But too many of us have experienced meetings that are less than, well, productive. It’s true with staff meetings, meetings with volunteers, etc… If I were to poll 1,000 ministers, I’m sure the majority would say that meetings are a black hole where time gets sucked away never to be seen or heard from again. Well, it does not have to be that way.
I heard someone once say that meetings usually fail for two main reasons:
- The leader doesn’t have a clear agenda.
- Other people in the meeting have their own agenda.
I believe this is true. And I also believe we can do something about it. Here are some strategies I use when running meetings.
- Facilitate the meetings. Yes, you heard it right. The best way to make sure the meeting is productive and fruitful is to step up to the plate and run the meeting yourself. This will not always be possible, but I know if I am in charge of the agenda and time, it helps.
- Start on time. Why? Starting on time is about respecting everyone’s time. Why punish the people who showed up on time by waiting for the late people? If this becomes a habit, then everyone knows that you never start a meeting on time and lateness becomes chronic. I’ve been known to start meetings with just two of the seven people who were supposed to show. When the other five walked in late, they got the message.
- Be realistic about how much time an agenda item will take. Really think it through. No item ever takes just five minutes. I’ve tried. So I schedule ten minutes for the item that I think will take five minutes.
- Prioritize agenda items. Put the most important items on the agenda first. This will ensure that you will get to discuss what is most important. Save the less important items to the end. If you don’t have time to discuss them, that’s fine. Send an email with information about that topic and be done with it.
- Ask permission to go over time. Sometimes, a meeting or an agenda item needs more time than expected. When you get close to the ending time, stop and ask permission to go over time. If everyone says yes, then you know you have more time. If people can’t go over time, then you know it’s time to end the conversation and continue it later. This again shows respect for people’s time and your colleagues will appreciate it.
Meetings are not always a blast, but they are a really good avenue to get things done. See if these strategies help you. And if not, please suggest some to us that do.
What strategies do you use when running meetings?