In a previous blog I talked about the value of meetings. Perhaps more importantly, in an effort to prevent volunteer burnout, I talked about the following:
1) How far in advance the first meeting should be conducted prior to a fundraising event
2) What decisions should be made during the earliest meetings
3) The real purpose of a meeting and the need to stick to the agenda
4) The reasoning behind forming sub-committees that work under the Steering Committee.
Now, here are a few additional tips regarding meetings.
General information should be disseminated to volunteers via emails and memos. However, specific topics such as sub-committee reports, item procurement, audience development and ticket sales should be discussed in a meeting environment.
During these meetings, stick to the agenda and stay on time. Do not allow anyone to take over the meeting with extended and repetitive dialog.
The minutes of the meeting should be distributed to the stakeholders and attendees within 48 hours of the meeting. This will serve as a reminder of the decisions of the meeting and also the tasks assigned. Also it’s important that the minutes from the previous meeting, including any updates, be handed out to the attendees at the beginning of the meeting. Expecting all attendees to bring the minutes that was distributed earlier is simply not realistic. Allow them 5 minutes of quiet time at the start of meeting to review the minutes. This will refresh their minds regarding what was discussed in the previous meetings and get them focused on the task at hand. This also allows a short buffer time for people who are habitually 3 minutes late.
During a meeting, if an assignment is given and accepted to a volunteer or committee member, write down the deadline as to when the assignment needs to be accomplished. The person who did the assigning should contact the person with the assignment 2 days before the deadline and inquire as to how the assignment is progressing. The person with the task should present his or her progress during the next meeting.
Now, this is key to keeping meetings a positive gathering. Celebrate the wins when good news is shared. However, NEVER embarrass anyone at a meeting for a missed or incomplete assignment or task. The leader should speak with them privately before or after.
In conclusion, keep meetings as short as possible – have only essential attendees be present – stick to the topics on the agenda – and be sure that the attendees feel, when the meeting is adjourned, that something was accomplished, that the event planning process was moved forward – and their valuable time was put to a good use.