I hate meetings. There. I admit it.
I’m a big believer in the management concept of: if it can be done in an email, don’t host a meeting. A meeting should be saved for times when opinions need to be heard and debated. As an introvert, I don’t even think that’s all that effective because there are some people who love being heard and others who would rather place their suggestions in writing.
Since we all have a very limited amount of time during the day, we should safeguard it like we would our chamber’s reputation.
Still, if you feel you must have that meeting….
5 Practices for Effective Chamber Meetings
- Have an agenda and put it together sooner than a few minutes before the meeting. If your attendees don’t see it until they sit down, it’s ineffective as anything more than charting progress toward when they get to go home. Ideally, it should list any issues open for discussion. It should prepare people for bringing their toy to the sandbox. If you need to, stipulate exactly what you expect out of everyone. An agenda should assign roles to more than just the presenter of the given topic.
- Don’t cancel. If you have a standing meeting that you cancel all the time, it sends a message that your meeting isn’t all that important. If it’s not important, why would people go?
- Reign in the sideshows. Sideshows are interesting at a circus but not so much at a meeting. Keep to the agenda. Let the conversations happen before or after the meeting. Build in extra time for it if you have a social group, but make it known to other meeting participants that these social times are optional.
- Think twice before saying “no.” When it comes to brainstorming and idea exchange, think twice before saying a definitive “no.” If you’re questioning the efficacy of an idea, use leading phrases like “tell me more” or “can you explain the benefits in greater detail?” before you shut them down in front of the group. You might just discover something interesting or valuable to the discussion even if you don’t agree with the concept.
- End each meeting with a review of takeaways and assignments. Everyone should know what was discussed, what was accomplished, and who has outstanding deliverables. Send a follow-up email to ensure everyone is on the same page. Provide dates for deliverables and set the next meeting time and date so everyone has it on their calendar early.
Finally, don’t always assume you need to meet in person. You can use technology to meet in other ways such as a conference call, virtually, in a private Facebook group, or through a Wiki page discussion where everyone can add their input on their schedule.