How to run a meeting: A response

The ex-Presbyterian presents:
How to run a Goddamn meeting.

ChaliceChick posts on her own blog, and frequents a number of other UU blogs with posts, trackbacks, and comments of her own. I just read her post on how to run a meeting, which is both insightful, and funny.

1. Have an agenda and for the love of God, stick to it.

Definitely required. If you can’t set up an agenda ahead of time, spend the first 10 minutes of the meeting creating it, THEN stick to it.

2. If you have two hours and fifteen minutes worth of stuff to say, plan two meetings.

The YAC in the old Michigan District had a 2 1/2 hour time limit on meetings. Anything not finished at that time had to be left to email or the next meeting. Weekend long meetings should never have individual sessions more than 2 1/2 hours long.

3. If people at the meeting need to have background information, put it in writing and send it to them beforehand.

Definitely. Said background information should arrive in each members hands no less than 1 week before the meeting itself.

4. If you’re doing something (like watching a DVD) in addition to the business portion of the meeting, do the business portion first.

I quote ChaliceChick: “Duh”.

5. We aren’t Quakers, consensus is unnecessary.
So don’t ask me why I voted against your proposition. I know that an hour and forty five minutes into the meeting is a bad time to explain my nuanced position on the church’s support of social justice groups even if you don’t. I was outvoted anyway, so be happy with that.

There are some who will argue that consensus is necessary. I’ll agree with CC, adding that if you want consensus, then that needs to be spelled out in the procedures the committee runs by, and that I’ve yet to find a consensus run body that has not lost entire swaths of voices, by way of persons unwilling to work inside a consensus model.

Also, procedures must also exist for use of a consensus model and the time it takes, and possibly going over timelines.

6. Once something is voted on, shut up about it.

You don’t need to talk about these past decisions. They aren’t the topics you’re thinking of. Move along.

7. People who chose to work out things between themselves during the meeting sucketh mightily.

Leave time after the meeting is adjourned to have those discussions. 20 minutes should be enough.

8. Always keep the action in mind. Discussion should be moving toward a vote. Discussion of church history on any committee but the church history committee is punishable by severe beatings.

This one is rough for me. I’ve found many times where history of the group is very important to interject, especially if the group has high turnover, such as YRUU and Young Adult groups. UU’s seem to have a hard time with institutional memory, and there are many times when it’s helpful. More apt I think is asking ones self “Is this history and reflection moving us forward?”

9. Set a goal for the meeting. Achieve your goal. Adjourn.

That IS the point of any meeting isn’t it? If you get done early, there’s more time for coffee, beer, or skinny dipping, depending on the mentality of the group.

10. Lead the meeting, or I will start leading it.

Bad meeting facilitation is the death of getting real work done.


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