According to a survey of U.S. professionals by Salary.com, meetings ranked as the number one productivity killer. Most employees find them unnecessary. However, in the association world, meetings are how things get done.
As a volunteer leader, how can you make sure you are getting the most out of these meetings? Here are five tips for running an efficient meeting that fellow volunteers won’t think is a waste of time.
- First, determine if a meeting is necessary.
Holding a meeting for the sake of meeting is the death of good volunteers. If there is not a clear objective or business to conduct, then holding a meeting is most likely a waste of your volunteers’ time. If there is something quick that needs answered, consider an email or phone call instead.
- Have a Timed Agenda.
Following an agenda is Meeting 101, but often meetings run over or items are put on hold because you ran out of time. When you create your agenda, assign each item a time limit so attendees have clear expectations.
- Provide relevant materials ahead of time.
We’ve all been in that meeting where 80 pages of supporting documents are needed, and you haven’t see them until you are taking your seat. Providing electronic copies in advance gives attendees the opportunity to review discussion items and have questions ready for the meeting. Having an informed group present leads to better outcomes because they’re knowledgeable, and have had time to think through decisions.
- Don’t be afraid to speak up.
This tip builds off of number two. You have an agenda. You’ve set your timing. You’re halfway through the meeting and… an attendee completely derails the conversation. Don’t be afraid to speak up, and get the meeting back on track. If their topic isn’t relevant politely explain that it’s not something the group planned on discussing at the meeting, and offer to add it to the next agenda. If it is something you ARE discussing but the conversation is not productive, explain that the meeting is running over the set schedule and move on.
- Take notes and send a recap.
One of the biggest time wasters in meetings is going back over what happened at the last meeting because no one can remember. Assign someone to take notes on key decisions, actions to complete and discussion items for future meetings. After the meeting distribute those notes to attendees and include them in the next meeting’s supporting materials.
These tips can go a long way in improving the efficiency of your meetings and productivity of the organization. Your volunteers’ time is an investment, so make sure they are getting a return on it!