How to Lead Dynamic and Effective Meetings – Part 1

Stand-Out Professional Tips 1-5

I know there are people who don’t like meetings. I am not one of those people. I like love being with other people, so meetings are a chance for me to do that. I guess I look more forward to the social aspect than the business aspect. As a leader–of anything–you have to conduct meetings. They may be small committee meetings or large organizational meetings. Regardless of the size of group for a meeting, there are certain things you can do to make the meeting engaging for everyone there, effective in planning and outcomes, and fun! Here are a few leadership tips that I have learned to use over the years of conducting countless meetings.

Stand-Out Professional Tips for Leading Dynamic and Effective Meetings – Part 1

  1. Determine the specific purpose and desired outcome of the meeting in advance and publish that with the announcement of the meeting time and location. State it aloud at the beginning of the meeting and have it printed at the top of the agenda. If you are leading a Christian organization, always include prayer at the beginning and/or end of your meeting.
  2. Provide a printed agenda for each participant. This means you must plan the meeting in your head and on paper in advance. Consider how much time each item on the agenda should take and include that timing on the printed agenda. If others will be giving reports, communicate with them in advance about how much time they will need and ask them to provide you with a written report for the meeting notes. See sample agenda on the Resources page. Arrive early to your meeting place and have the agenda sheets already placed at each seat.
  3. Provide time for introductions of each participant (if there are fewer than 10 participants). At the least, use name tags or name tents for each participant (have extras available in case someone is left out). If fewer than 10, ask each person to introduce her/himself to the whole group. Ask each to answer a question relevant to your meeting topic that will have a brief answer. If there are more than 10, ask them to answer the question with each other in groups of 3 or 4.  This gives everyone a chance to hear themselves speak out loud in the gathering. It is worth the 10 minutes or so at the beginning to do this. It is really helpful for those who are shy or introverted to be heard and recognized this way. They are often unlikely to volunteer information unless directly asked. It is so easy for extroverts or dominant personalities to talk over the quieter ones. As the leader, you can help even this out. You are trying to build a team of people who want to work together. Help them communicate easily with one another. You will be amazed how this will help create camaraderie for later discussions. For example, when I led a meeting to start planning our women’s retreat, I asked each committee member to tell us her name and what she loves about retreats. It really helped to start the conversation and made dialogue flow throughout the rest of the meeting.
  4. Ask someone else to take notes. As the meeting leader, you need the freedom to keep the conversation going and not have to try to take notes, too. Ask that person to write up those notes as soon as possible and then you can edit them before they are sent out.
  5. Encourage alternative ideas from what you are presenting. If you want everyone in the group to have ownership, they need the opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process. Otherwise, it is a dictatorship and others will lose interest and become antagonistic. Just because you are the leader does not mean you have the best ideas all the time. Don’t be so wed to one of your ideas that you can’t hear others’ ideas. Once the group makes a decision, be faithful to that decision unless there is a really important reason not to be. A leader helps the whole team look good. To get the most cooperation, everyone needs to feel they are making a difference with their input and their support.

I hope those are helpful reminders for you as you plan the next meeting for your group. I will share 5 more next week. Whenever possible, allow others the opportunity to facilitate in your place. As leaders, we should always be mentoring our replacements and this is a good way to do this. Meetings that accomplish their purpose and help participants feel needed and useful tend to be fun meetings because everyone is engaged. Let me know how your meetings are going.

Join in the conversation below by telling us about some of the best meetings you have attended and what made them great. 

Laura Savage-Rains–coach, speaker, writer–is the founder and author of WomensMinistryCoach.com who is using her 30+ years of ministry and leadership experience to teach women how to lead with passion. She is a native Texan who has also lived in foreign places such as Alabama and Romania. She makes her home in Lakeway, Texas, with her husband, Mark. She loves to write, speak, and teach the Bible. She is also a women’s ministry team member, choir member, stepmom, and Grammy to 3 little girls. She loves dark chocolate with caramel, “The Sound of Music” movie, and Barbra Streisand’s music.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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8 thoughts on “How to Lead Dynamic and Effective Meetings – Part 1

    • Thanks, Gail. I hope this and next weeks’ blog posts are helpful. You might also want to download the FREE Purposeful Planning poster on the RESOURCES page. Feel free to reproduce these and share with others. Blessings on your writing and speaking to single moms through your SMORE program!

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience to help other women in their journey. After reading your blog, I can definitely say that there is so much to learn about effectively leading others. Thank you for the blueprint on how to make meetings more fun and engaging which I plan to incorporate into our future WM committee meetings. I have been blessed to have such a great group of strong women to learn from and grow with!

    Keep reaching out. You have so much to share and you are blessing others by your ability to so clearly articulate your thoughts.

    • Thanks, Hulda! God has blessed me with so many experiences and great teachers that I am compelled to share what I’ve learned. Feel free to ask questions, too! Those will give me ideas for future posts!

  2. How do we work prayer into our meetings that doesn’t add 20 minutes to the length of the meeting? I see your sample agenda includes opening/closing praying. My experience is that is good stuff like praise, prayer for the meeting/group, specific health issues of attendees.

    But how can we create in our meetings a space where our dear sisters can openly share the challenges and concerns they have in their roles/tasks as it pertains to the group/purpose? I think we want to hear what our precious sisters are thinking, doing and planning, but we also want to rejoice with their victories and pray for their specific concerns related to the things they have committed to do! And as their “co-workers”, it seems we are the appointed ones to do this!

    Again, I’m not looking to create a much longer meetings, (ugh!). “Updates” and answered prayers can be shared between meetings via “email”, for instance. I even wonder if these group emails could lend energy, encouragement and connectedness to the group/purpose between meetings.

    Briefly highlighting the “victories, answered prayers” before the opening prayer also sounds like a good start for a meeting! What a great reminder that God is here with us – involved and answering our prayers — as we work and create together to accomplish what He has called us to do. woohoo!

    This is a long reply (I have mopping and dusting I don’t want to do this morning) so to condense this:
    * inviting our sisters to share the challenges they are/will be facing in their roles/tasks
    * welcoming them to share their updates between meetings via group email
    * reminding ourselves of answered prayers at the opening
    would seem to be time well-spent to achieve our goals of making our time together dynamic and effective. But that first bulleted item seems tricky to add to an agenda without opening a door that is hard to close in a timely manner.

    • Thanks for the question/comment, Magan. I think you answered your own question, yet I will add a bit. All praying does not have to open the floor for everyone’s personal requests. Prayer can be purposeful in a meeting just as it is in a worship service. Providing time for personal sharing of requests can happen at another type gathering or outside the specified meeting time.
      The real point I was trying to make is that if you are in a meeting for church or Christian purposes, then you have complete freedom to incorporate prayer into the agenda. I think it is easy to get so focused on the task–even in church settings–that we can leave God out of our plans. A prayer to start and end a meeting is one way to help us refocus.
      Thanks for helping us think about the different possibilities.