Meetings! Do you love meetings? Do your coalition members love your meetings? Whether you are scheduling, planning, discussing, hosting or following up on them, meetings are a critical component of coalition work. In our coalitions, we are focused on getting people to work together toward a common purpose or goal. In order to work together, we usually need to meet together. While you may currently have a love/hate relationship with meetings, there are some things you can do to plan, host and participate in meetings that you and your members will love. Join me for three tips that will transform your coalition meetings.
Take the time to plan.
In our coalition work, we often underestimate the time and effort needed to plan a meeting. While you may have found a date that will work for your meeting – which is definitely something to celebrate these days – you still need to plan the meeting. Our best meetings usually take 1-3 pre-meetings with additional discussion in an electronic platform (shared documents, email, etc.). I recently co-led two virtual learning collaborative sessions that included presentations and participant engagement. While each session was no more than 1.5 hours, preparing for these sessions took at least two pre-session meetings and communication in between. We needed to clarify our purpose, who needed to participate, how we wanted them to engage, the discussion questions, timing of the meeting and how we wanted to evaluate the meetings. In order to lead meetings that our members love, we have to spend adequate time planning the meetings. Learn from what worked well and what could be in your previous meetings and plan well for the future!
Clarify roles and responsibilities.
One important aspect of planning the meeting is clarifying roles and responsibilities related to the meeting. Who will be inviting people to participate? Send a calendar invite? Develop a registration? Conduct the presentations? Host the zoom meeting? Launch the polls? Facilitate the discussion? Once you have developed your plan and discussed roles and responsibilities, ensure that your team members are agreeing to the role you *think* that they are going to play. During one of the recent learning collaborative meetings, we had focused on the roles for the presenters but we had not taken time to clearly articulate expectations and agreement on the rest of the roles. Who was going to put the links in the chat? Who was recording the meeting? In this situation, I sent a last-minute email asking my colleagues to play specific roles in the meeting. While they agreed and the meeting went well, we decided for future meetings, we needed to make these decisions at least a few days in advance!
Clearly communicate expectations.
Prior to a meeting, you want to let the participants know why they are coming to the meeting and what to expect. During the meeting, you want to clearly communicate why they are participating in the meeting, how they can participate and what you want to accomplish as a result of the meeting. Even though you may have spent countless hours planning the meeting, your participants have likely only reviewed an email and the link to join the meeting. If they are particularly engaged, they may have looked at the agenda. Depending upon the meeting or the group, you may also have to redirect participants back to the purpose and goal for the meeting. During the past couple of weeks, I have hosted small group meetings to develop a strategic plan. At the beginning of the meeting, I provide context for the meeting and how we want them to participate. At the end of the meeting, I provide a summary of what we discussed, decided and how we wanted to follow-up from the meeting. If you want to host meetings that your members will love, take the time to clearly communicate expectations before, during and after the meeting.
So what about you? What do you do to ensure you are hosting meetings your members will love?
If you would like more support with conducting effective meetings, check out masterclass replay “Meetings your Members will Love”