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Effective Meetings: The Schedule

How often do you meet? Do you meet in person or virtually? How do you know? One of the most challenging aspects related to leading partnerships and coalitions is determining an appropriate meeting schedule. You want to keep your members engaged and working together well. You don’t want to overburden yourself or your members by meeting too frequently, but you also don’t want to meet so infrequently that they forget about the collective work and you lose momentum. There is not a “right” answer to the schedule question. It really depends upon the purpose, people and progress of your group. Join me this week as I provide 3 recommendations on determining your best meeting schedule.

  1. Consider your goals and timelines. You have already determined your purpose (see post), the people (see post) and it’s important to consider the group’s goals and timeline. For instance, if you are working toward a particular policy change and you know when the legislature meets again, you will have a deadline for when you need to have all of your policy plans developed. In other situations, your group may set their own timeline associated with collective goals or you may have timelines based on your grant’s funding cycle.
  2. Assess your staff’s capacity. This is extremely important! As much as it may seem possible to convene groups as often as the group may want to meet, if you do not have the capacity to staff, host and follow-up on these meetings, you cannot commit to a meeting schedule that is overly frequent. Also, you don’t want to spend all of your time planning and hosting meetings. You need to allow time in-between meetings to work on accomplishing the collective goals. Depending upon your staff’s capacity and the related goals and timelines, you may be able to meet every other month or every quarter. In the past, we often met with each of our groups monthly; however, this quickly became overwhelming for staff to manage. The frequency may also differ depending upon whether you have subcommittees working on specific projects. These small groups will likely meet more frequently (every month or every two weeks) for a time until you have made enough progress to share with the larger group.
  3. Ask your members. This may seem obvious, but it’s always a good idea to ask the group members how often they would be available and interested in meeting to accomplish the collective goals. There will likely be differences in your member’s perspectives. I encourage you to attempt to listen to the majority of the members in your group rather than a small (and perhaps very insistent) minority. Depending upon the group and the level of trust in the group, you can discuss this during a meeting or you may need to send an email or a brief electronic survey to assess their perspectives. Also, I encourage you to assess the type of meeting preferred. Your members may prefer that you host some of your meetings via video conference (or conference call) and others in person.

Ultimately, developing your meeting schedule takes into consideration all of these factors. What are your goals and related timelines, staff’s capacity and membership’s perspective? Once you assess all of these areas, you will be able to develop the “right” meeting schedule for you. 

What about you? What do you do to determine your meeting schedule? 

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