3 Key Factors to a Successful Meeting
There are varied opinions on meetings.
Some people feel that meetings are time wasters. Some feel that they are essential for building a team, sharing information and ideas, collaborating and getting consensus.
One thing is for sure—there is an abundance of meetings in most nonprofits, especially relating to fundraising programs and projects. Typically, when you add volunteer engagement, the number of meetings that are needed or take place rise exponentially.
We find meetings or calls essential to keep campaigns and other projects on task. This helps key leaders understand where you are going and what needs to be done. It builds in some accountability.
With technology and the opportunity for video conferencing, we are using these whenever possible. There truly is no substitute for meeting in-person with someone, but for regular meetings, this is often not essential. Even for a local meeting that involves volunteers, having a remote meeting can save hours in travel time—addressing the key criticism that meetings can drain time.
There are many attributes to consider in meeting dynamics. However, we find these three key:
- Have the right people at the table. Consider the meeting goal and determine who must be there. If you have people in the meeting who really are not essential and are not contributing then you are not utilizing their time at the highest level. Chances are, this disconnect impedes the progress and efficiency of the meeting.
- Have an agenda that reflects the meeting goals. Let participants know in advance what will be covered and by whom. Let them have time to prepare needed information, as well as their thoughts for major discussion items. Give participants the opportunity to suggest agenda items that may have been overlooked.
- Have a definite time limit. We find that depending on the scope of the project, weekly video, phone or in-person meetings with clients most often fall into two timeframes: A 30-minute meeting or a one-hour meeting. Let people know about the timeframe in advance and refine it as you call the meeting to order. If you need a few minutes of team-building time to keep the participants engaged, build that into the agenda or encourage them to join the meeting early. Don’t underestimate the value of connecting, but don’t let it interfere with your goals on each call. Begin the meeting on time and conclude it either before or at the scheduled time.
Be sure that the meetings you hold are needed. If so, take a few steps to ensure that you have the right people at the table, you have the right agenda to achieve your goals and you guide the meeting to keep the discussion on point and on schedule.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.