Oh yes, the bane of a lot of our existence. Meetings, meetings, meetings. Most of my full-time church experience has been in the PCUSA, and we have meetings to plan meetings, that will hopefully lead to a meeting where the agenda item will be discussed.

A couple of thoughts.

When we are employed church staff members, part of our job is to be at church, and to be available to be at our meetings, as well as everyone else’s meetings. Sometimes the meetings are mandatory, and sometimes they are not…but regardless, being at meetings is often required and necessary and it’s just a part of our day. BUT, it is not the constant job of those who are volunteers. They have to plan to leave work, drive to church, have babysitters, etc.

While we…well, we are at church, free to move schedules for meetings.

I just don’t think that those of us employed in the church think enough about, or realize the busy lives of others, who are a part of our ministry, and the schedules they keep. We plan meetings at odd hours sometimes, we drag them out, we come to them without clear agenda items and a definite end time in mind. We often “over meet”, and often ask volunteers who are already involved in other ministries (therefore, doubling their meetings) to serve in our ministry.

Here is what I wish I would have done more regularly, and I hope this will cause food for thought:

  1. Always come to the meeting with a written agenda.
  2. Stay on the agenda task and don’t let topics get off course that should be discussed another time and place.
  3. Keep the meetings short; this isn’t always the case for some…but don’t waste time.
  4. If you are wanting to socialize, bond, build teamwork, don’t do it in a meeting.  Go do something else.
  5. Have a definite end time in mind.  When that time hits, stop the meeting.  Pick up another time.
  6. Stand?  I haven’t done this yet, but keep seeing it recommended.

Last month Seth Godin had a great post, Getting serious about your meeting problem.

Seth says this:

  1. Understand that all problems are not the same. So why are your meetings? Does every issue deserve an hour? Why is there a default length?
  2. Schedule meetings in increments of five minutes. Require that the meeting organizer have a truly great reason to need more than four increments of realtime face time.
  3. Require preparation. Give people things to read or do before the meeting, and if they don’t, kick them out.
  4. Remove all the chairs from the conference room. I’m serious.
  5. If someone is more than two minutes later than the last person to the meeting, they have to pay a fine of $10 to the coffee fund.
  6. Bring an egg timer to the meeting. When it goes off, you’re done. Not your fault, it’s the timer’s.
  7. The organizer of the meeting is required to send a short email summary, with action items, to every attendee within ten minutes of the end of the meeting.
  8. Create a public space (either a big piece of poster board or a simple online page) that allows attendees to rate meetings and their organizers on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of usefulness. Just a simple box where everyone can write a number. Watch what happens.
  9. If you’re not adding value to a meeting, leave. You can always read the summary later.