10 Tips to Leading Productive Meetings

Leadership and volunteer team meetings are very important to having a healthy and productive church — yet have you ever sat through a meeting and said to yourself, “What a waste of time, I could be doing other things?” Poorly run meetings are dreadful! They can have a significant negative effect on productivity and motivation for your staff/volunteers.

It’s probably unrealistic to think about scrapping meetings altogether. However, significantly reducing both the frequency and amount of time spent in them will bring staff and volunteer satisfaction and productivity. Here are ten tips to help you lead better meetings:

1. Set Time Limits

Time is valuable, so limit the length of the meeting to one hour, or less, if you can. And end the meeting on time, even if the agenda topic is not completed. When you set strict time limits, people can better plan their day around the meeting, with the expectation that they will be released from the meeting on time. Additionally, this will force meeting planners to condense their agendas to only the topics that really matter.

2. Distribute a Meeting Agenda

Have a clear agenda distributed in advance that announces the goal of the meeting and anticipated outcomes. Ensure the agenda has a limited number of action and discussion items. These meetings agendas will help keep the meeting on track and can help you stick to your anticipated time limit.

3. Start on Time

Always start the meeting on time and don’t allow participants to take part after 15 minutes. Also, do not spend time updating late arrivals on what they missed. If you form a habit of starting meetings on time, people will create a habit of joining meetings on time. This keeps the meeting on track and helps you stay within your designated timeframe.

4. Limit the Meeting Size

Smaller meetings encourage more folks to participate, so it’s a good practice to limit the number of people involved in each meeting. While maintaining between seven and nine participants may be ideal, your meeting cap will ultimately depend on your team size. A good way to keep meetings small is by only inviting the necessary parties to attend. Uninvited people will appreciate fewer meetings, and those who attend are likely to benefit from a more productive meeting.

5. Brings Everyone Into the Conversation

One of the most important practices you can adopt as a team leader is stepping in when there are one or two individuals dominating the conversation. Make it a habit to go around the room and ask the quieter members of the team for their opinion.

6. Assign Clear Action Items and Takeaways

No one wants to attend a pointless meeting that accomplishes nothing – yet this happens all too often. Ensure there are specific and actionable follow-up tasks to decisions made at the meeting, including who is responsible and accountable for each item. This clarity will help bring purpose to your meeting and will put your organization in the best position to succeed. Creating after-meeting action items will also help prepare employees for the next meeting, since they will be able to report on their progress or findings.

7. Send Follow-up Information and Details

If several important details are being discussed during the meeting, make it clear to employees that you will be distributing the information after the meeting. This will free employees from taking detailed meeting notes and allow them to better engage in the discussion. After the meeting, don’t forget to actually send the follow-up information.

8. Ask About Concerns

This could include something on the agenda, or polices practices, technical problems, and even personal behaviors which keep staff and volunteers from doing their tasks effectively. Give people the space to share their hearts about the issue.

9. Recognize your Volunteers (and/or staff)

Great leaders praise in public and criticize in private. That’s why another practice you should adopt as a leader is taking a moment to recognize your people during your team meetings.

10. Ask For Feedback

When was the last time you asked employees for feedback about your team meetings? In The Making of a Manager, Julie Zhuo describes a time when one of her reports let her know that their weekly “stand-up” meeting could easily be an email.

“The feedback was spot-on. I left with a deeper appreciation of both the importance of planning good meetings and the value of giving feedback to improve bad meetings.”

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