How to Run a Meeting (part 2)

May 19, 2011

Today's post is part of my blog series of sharing chapter four of my book, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community. I hope you find reading the book over the next couple weeks to be enjoyable and beneficial to you as a leader.

This is part two about how to run a meeting. If you missed yesterday's post, you can read it here.


I believe it’s always smart to give the agenda to people attending the meeting at least a couple days in advance. 

My personal preference is to email everyone one week in advance to make sure they have it on their calendar.  Then a day or two before the meeting I email them the agenda for them to review.  This gives everyone a chance to look at it and come to the meeting prepared. 

I’m always early to the meetings I run.  If 10 people are going to be gathered in a room for a meeting, the last thing they should have to do is to wait for the person running it to show up.  They’ve volunteered their time and energy, and I feel it’s disrespectful to them if I show up late and unprepared.  So I often show up early, set the agendas on the table, and am ready for them as they walk in. 

Being at the meeting early also gives me a chance to talk with the volunteers personally to get to know them better and to learn more about them.  Both of these are important to leading an effective meeting.

Once the team is gathered in the room, I always start by thanking everyone for attending, and I communicate why we are at the meeting.  I prepare for the meeting so we can help give hope and encouragement to families in need for Thanksgiving, and I always want to make sure they are at the meeting for the same reason.  I say, “Well, thank you all for coming here to help with A Day of Hope.  As you might know, we’re here to work on how to feed 350 needy families for Thanksgiving.  So let’s get started.”

I don’t care for setting time limits on meetings for one reason: you don’t go to a meeting to meet; you go to a meeting to get something done.  In other words, I normally run our meetings until we are done with the business we need to take care of.  Sometimes that is thirty minutes.  Sometimes it is two hours. 

It’s also important to note that the more often you meet, the shorter the meetings will be because you have discussions and make decisions frequently rather than saving them up.  If you meet once a week you’re more likely to make quick progress on the work you’re doing.  But if you’re meeting once a month you have to wait an entire month between meetings to report on your work and get input on how to proceed.  Meeting often allows things to move quickly and allows the leader to keep people accountable for making progress on their assigned tasks.

It’s important to set the meeting to recur on the same day and time.  Former presidential candidate and New York City Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, is famous for having had an 8:00 AM meeting every single day with his department heads while he was Mayor of New York City.  A Day of Hope’s leadership team meets the first Monday of every month at 6:00 PM.  The location sometimes changes but the meeting date and time rarely do. 

Meetings are an important part of making A Day of Hope successful.  So make the best out of the meetings and the meetings will make the best out of your project.

Question: What's your process/method for running meetings?

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

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