Sometimes you just can’t get around holding a meeting.
For those times, there are small things you can do help keep your committee happy.
- Start positive. Start every meeting with a show of gratitude. Thank your committee members for the valuable time and energy they give to your organization. Be sincere.
- Feed their minds & stomachs. Always have food and drink available at each meeting. If your meeting is in the morning, provide bagels or donuts and hot beverages. If your meeting is in the afternoon or evening provide savory and sweet snacks. It doesn’t have to be much, it just has to be something. Nobody does their best work hungry. If you want your board members to do their best work, give them food to feed their brain.
- Use name tags. Name tags and table tents are a must at every meeting. Not everyone is great with names and it can be difficult to remember the names of fellow committee members with a few weeks between meetings. Name tags are especially important if your committee sees a lot of turnover. Placing table tents with names in front of each attending member helps other people know who is speaking, especially if your committee is on the larger side. Everyone wins with name tags.
- Break into small groups. If the discussion is getting lively and there isn’t enough time to hear all options/ideas, consider breaking your committee into three or more smaller groups. Each group can discuss their ideas in a deeper and more efficient way. Task each group to come to a consensus before returning to the main group. Once back together, have each group share their findings/opinions about the matter. It’s much easier to have debate and come to a group decision when you’re debating three options instead of thirty. Bonus: Your committee members will feel more engaged with the process.
- Location, Location. Location. Do you hold your meetings in the same windowless board room? Do you have trouble getting the attendance you would like at committee meetings? Consider switching up the location of your meetings. Holding meetings in the same room gets boring. Find new and exciting locations that are appealing to your committee members. Try museums, board member offices, wineries, private dining rooms at local restaurants.
- Virtual meetings. What happens when one of your members misses a meeting? Do you, like most nonprofits, send an email containing a multi-page document of notes and then hope the person reads them? If your answer is yes, consider allowing virtual attendance at some meetings. We’re all so busy day-to-day, help everyone make it to your meeting easily by allowing them to attend virtually if that it what best fits their schedule. Blue Jeans, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Skype make it easy for those who are not in physical attendance to be there via the internet.
- Make your meetings interactive. No one wants to listen to a lecture. Encourage all committee members to participate in the conversation. When people feel like their contribution is valued, they are more likely to show up and take it seriously.
We all know that feeling valued by an organization leads to higher productivity levels. Do the work necessary to show your committee members that they matter to your organization and that the work they do is important. In return, they will show up and give their all for your cause.