What Do You Hope to Achieve

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Published February 5, 2017

What Do You Hope to Achieve?

“I know we didn’t accomplish anything, but that’s what meetings are for.”

Recently, at a Seminar of the Institute for Charitable Giving, I asked how many of the group feel their staff meetings are important and effective.

No one raised their hand! No one!

I know that meetings are essential. The staff needs to know what’s happening and what activities are in the works. Who is supposed to be doing what? By when? And they need to talk about a strategy for the future. Meetings ought to be exciting and strategic.

Staff meetings should provide for the unleashing of positive forces that carry the institution to new levels of impact, outreach, and service. The agendas should be planned and designed in such a way that there are decisions to be made.

Some meetings can be miserable and unproductive experiences. I’m reminded that on Judgment Day, the Lord will divide people by telling those on His right hand to enter the Kingdom and those on His left hand to break into small groups and committee meetings.

So . . . how can we make them more effective? Jon Dellandrea, the world’s foremost fundraiser, starts his senior staff meetings by asking, “What’s the most important issue we need to solve today?” That’s a great start.

Here’s what I suggest—

  1. Write out objectives for the meeting. What are you hoping to achieve? What high aspirations do you want participants to take with them when they leave the meeting?
  2. Circulate the agenda at least 24 hours in advance.
  3. There’s small wonder the meetings are dull and languid if you only have participants making dull and languid reports!
  4. Start on time. Don’t penalize the punctual.
  5. End on time. Let everyone know when you’ll be finishing. Stick to it.
  6. Appoint someone (not the Chair) to take ten minutes or so at the end to summarize key points and action steps.

“You don’t motivate people by telling them Hell is a place where they will burn.
You incite them by telling them that Hell is an unending committee meeting.”