So you’re calling a group meeting…
When it comes to group management, running a simple group meeting shouldn’t be complicated. After all, you’re excited about the position of influence you have in the group, and the group is excited about the goals of the group! While it’s not exactly rocket science to schedule a get-together, a well-executed group meeting should leave group members fired up and ready for action!
Could this just as easily be handled via email or virtual chat?
If so, don’t meet.
We all know the palpable buzz of energy that a unifying and productive planning session can bring to the room. And far too many of us have likely been involved in the dreaded meeting-that-could’ve-been-an-email. Or it’s sister in group management meeting dysfunction, the leaderless brainstorming circle that devolves into eons of pontification, musings, gripes and general non-sequiters, leaving everyone feeling fried and questioning their involvement moving forward. One unnecessary meeting too many, and you risk flagging commitment levels and plummeting attendance. Absolutely deadly. Don’t be that guy.
Good group management is good time management.
Now that we’ve cleared that up….
As a dedicated leader, you want group members to know that their time is respected, and that their participation is not only valued but actually needed! Whether it’s your first time running a group meeting or you’re a seasoned moderator that just needs a kickstart, you may find this meeting preparation checklist helpful!
- Clarify the reason for the meeting. Hone in on the short list: what are the key decisions and agenda items that need addressing? Keep those at the forefront. This really can’t be overstated. It is your guiding light.
- Pick a time/place
- Confirm availability of space
- Identify, arrange for, AND TEST any required equipment.
- Invite the group
- Send out pre-reading, agenda items, and questions in advance so that everyone can be ready to hit the ground running.
- Have a plan for keeping time and taking notes. If you’re leading the meeting, asking someone in advance to co-moderate can be invaluable in keeping up with these two critical pieces!
- Start on time.
- Welcome group and reiterate the reason for the meeting. The group will be familiar with this if you sent out an agenda beforehand, so keep it snappy.
- If there are any key group updates, be sure to share! This might include developments from previous meetings, celebrations, member news, and upcoming events.
- Stay focused! If new topics or project ideas arise that feel worthy of group time, make sure to roll them over to future agenda items and conversations! There is a fine line between welcoming creative brainstorming and making sure the group sticks with the agreed upon goals of the meeting! Find the sweet spot.
- Keep clear notes to distribute to the group post-meeting.
- If there are tasks that need to be signed up for, make sure that they are time-bound. This creates an accountability loop so that everyone in the group can have a way to measure progress. Progress means to-do’s get done, goals get crushed, and everyone stays invested and looking forward.
- If appropriate, you might include a time for sharing or questions toward the end. The larger the group, the more important it is to have boundaries around HOW MUCH sharing and HOW MANY questions. Perhaps keep it to one loop around the circle, or only five to ten minutes for feedback, etc. Again, keeping a boundary around the stated length of the meeting is an easy way to build group trust.
- Finish by restating the decisions that have been made. If new ideas arose that did not fit the agenda for this meeting, confirm that they will not fall by the wayside. Agree on a time for a future meeting if appropriate at this juncture!
- End on time.
- As soon as possible, either directly share the minutes with group members, or send out a message confirming their location in the shared document repository.
- Follow up with task leaders to make sure that they have the support they need to do the jobs for which they have signed up! If any jobs are time-bound, confirm the critical dates and times with the appropriate point people.
- Set an automated calendar invite for the next get-together so that people can seamlessly work it into their schedules.
Have you ever heard the saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”? Group meetings are a lot like that! It’s easier to plan a good one on the front end than it is to get the train back on the tracks after you’ve lost everyone’s attention. A little planning will go a long way to making your group meetings a success!