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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.