Last night about 15 congregational leaders from Prairie Star, Central Midwest, and Heartland districts took part in another online workshop offered by Midwest UU Leadership. The previous workshop was about getting your congregation ready for fall. This one was about effective meeting leadership. I have to say that I’ve really enjoy putting together and presenting these workshops, and it seems like the participants feel they’ve been worth the effort, too. Here’s one of the comments I received about last night’s offering:

This workshop has been extremely helpful to me. I can read the information we shared tonight, but hearing real voices, experts in the subject,  adds immeasurably to how much I will retain. As a new president this subject was very timely. I’ve sat in many, many meetings in my life, but chairing one is very different. Thanks for this help.

So, who were these experts? And what, exactly, did we cover last night? Well the workshop was presented by Ian Evison and Nancy Combs-Morgan (my district staff colleagues). They really did bring a lot of expertise to the subject. And here’s the actually slide presentation we offered, along with our Ten Good Ideas about Effective Meeting Leadership.

Ten Good Ideas about Effective Meeting Leadership

Is It Necessary?
Ask what meetings are really needed and who really needs to be there.

Prepare Well
In good meetings as in good dinner parties, success is determined largely by preparation.

Engage the Whole Person
Even narrowly task-oriented meetings benefit greatly by treating participants as whole people, attending to their creature comforts and making—structured—space for social interaction and religious deepening.

Set Good Ground Rules
It greatly benefits the work of a committee or task group to have an honest expectation about the ground rules on such subjects as arriving late, missing meetings, and follow-through on tasks.

Respect Time
One of the keys to an effective meeting is for the chair to begin and end the meeting on time and to keep the group moving through its agenda.

Focus on Decisions
What committee meetings do best is decide things and meetings tend to be most successful when they focus on what is needed in order to do this well.

Record What Has Been Decided
Review orally the decisions that have been made, write them down, keep them where they won’t get lost, and distribute them to those in the group who are not present and others who might be affected.

Recap Action Items
Highlight in the minutes action items and review them orally at the end of the meeting—including who has agreed to take action on each item.

Directly Handle Difficult Behavior
Find ways to handle directly difficult behavior such as people who dominate discussion or who violate other ground-rules the group has set.

Evaluate the Meeting
Take time as the end to discuss—briefly—how the meeting went and what could be done to make future meetings more productive.

We also suggested one good resource: a PDF called “Meetings That Work” from the Congregational Services Staff Group of the UUA.