Before the meeting...
- Develop an agenda. It should be specific and include all the who, what, when, where information.
- Distribute (email) the agenda and pre-meeting documents (timelines, financial reports, background information, etc.) along with an invitation to participate well in advance of the meeting.
During the meeting...
- Assign a secretary to take notes and/or minutes. This may seem overly administrative, but it provides a valuable record of what happened and who's responsible for what outcomes.
- Review objectives. State the purpose of the meeting and the desired outcome. Explain why your board or committee needs to meet. Restate it at the start of all committee, task force or team meetings.
- Review deadlines. Ask your committee or fellow board members: "When can we reasonably expect to complete this objective?" Establish specific priorities.
- Get status updates on any outstanding activities, tasks. This ensures accountability. The last thing volunteers want is to look unprepared in front of their peers.
Dealing with difficult situations...
- Address concerns, questions and issues in the moment. Don't let minor issues linger, often the committee/task force can help or should be aware of 'off-line' conversations.
- Stick to the agenda. Tangents will occur, maintain focus on the purpose of the meeting.
- Stand up to naysayers. Don't let critics hijack your time. A great way to quiet a cynic is to restate his or her criticism and respond with resolution-leading open questions e.g. "I understand your concern is that the task force report will take longer to complete than the projected deadline. What do you recommend we do to deliver it on time?"
After the meeting...
- Distribute minutes and notes to attendees and other stakeholders. Be sure to publicly thank your secretary and the stakeholders who volunteered to take on extra responsibilities. A little appreciation goes a long way.
- Follow-up with others who have assumed responsibility for tasks or outcomes.
- Send a reminder about your next meeting.