Oh no, not another meeting!
Posted: October 15, 2012
I always hear about the meeting that had no purpose and was a waste of time: ‘meeting just to have a meeting’. And I’ll bet you’ve had that experience yourself.
Why is it so hard to have a good meeting, where we all know why we’re there and we all leave with a sense of accomplishment? One of the most common reasons is a lack of purpose. This sounds pretty basic – you wouldn’t call a meeting just for the sake of having one. Or would you? Too many times we get caught in the once-a-month syndrome. As the chair or leader of a group, we often think we have to meet on a regular basis whether we need to or not. Put another way: we meet even though there aren’t any significant agenda items.
Putting together a meeting agenda is a good way to make sure your meeting has a purpose. The more detailed the agenda, the easier this is to see. Do you have any ‘unfinished business’? If so, list it on the agenda by name. If not, then don’t put ‘unfinished business’ on the agenda. What about ‘new business’? Do you have specific items to discuss, or on which to take action? List them on the agenda. Or leave ‘new business’ off. If you use this process for agenda items, it becomes easy to see whether your meeting has a purpose.
Many groups like to meet in order to network and exchange information, so there may not be specific agenda items. How can you tell if this is an effective use of meeting time? Take the group’s ‘pulse’ at the end of the meeting. Are members upbeat and positive, or are they running for the door? One of the simplest ways to find out if a meeting works is to ask the members: “How is everyone feeling about today’s meeting – was it worthwhile? Do you have any suggestions for improving our next meeting?” Or, ask your members for a show of thumbs about the meeting. Thumbs-up means it was a good meeting; thumbs-down means there’s room for improvement. (If you want to get fancy about it, you can include a thumbs-sideways option, too).
There’s no mystery to having a great meeting. A little before-and-after work -- setting an agenda before and checking with your members after – can help make it happen. Here’s to your next meeting. Hope it’s a good one!