Thursday, January 9, 2014

Effective Club Meetings

We have effective club meetings because:
  1. We have an agenda.
  2. We keep meetings short.
  3. We give appropriate recognition at each meeting.
  4. We keep discussions to a minimum.
  5. We don't allow everyone to speak in order to keep on schedule.  
Okay, some are trick questions, but some are not.  

LCI (Lions Club International) had a recent Webinar (on-line training) on Effective Club Meetings.  It took about 45 minutes out of our day and was well worth it.  We sat our granddaughter in front of Dora the Explorer and took the time to attend.  (It isn't going to kill her to watch TV for 45 minutes!)  There's so much value in these Webinars but I don't think members are giving this opportunity due consideration.  If you want to grow in the Club, these Webinars offer you the opportunity to get the knowledge to do that.  

But I digress, which I often do....  

This Webinar was on facilitating a productive meeting.  Now, I suspect this was referencing your regular club meeting, but it could also apply to committee meetings.  Here's what we learned:

Most of this was common knowledge--Make sure your meeting site is appropriate -- size, security, and the ability for the handicap to attend.  Have an agenda based on input from officers, committee members, and members.  Email the agenda prior to the meeting.  Have an attendance sign-in sheet.  Introduction of guests. Provide recognition and an informal "thank you" at each meeting.  

  1. Use Roberts Rules of Order.  This provides consistency in your meetings along with a fairness to all.  It provides everyone the opportunity to speak.
  2. Clearly state a motion or a decision that is to be voted on or approved.
  3. Keep discussion on topic.  If discussion sways, bring it back on track.  Give everyone a chance to speak.
  4. If time is not adequate, table anything that can be handled at another time.  
  5. Allow all points of view to be expressed, but keep the discussion focused on the agenda item.  
Why use board meetings for business decisions?  Having separate board meetings was recommended :  (1) Decision making will be made by those interested; (2) more efficient discussion in a smaller group; (3) easier to manage and vote in a smaller meeting; (4) shortens business reports at the regular meeting.  A con by having separate board meetings is that a few members are making the decisions.  You decide.  

Facilitation skills:  
  • Active listening:  While a member is talking, paraphrase to yourself questions you might ask; or ask a question when he/she is done to clarify.
  • Encourage participation by the group especially by the "silent ones."  It was suggested that the President turn a portion of the meeting over to the silent ones.  Give them a topic to discuss at the next meeting.  It was also suggested that an activity prior to the meeting would get everyone comfortable with each other and that might open them up.  
  • Tact and diplomacy:  How do you get a member back on track?  Ring the bell.  Ask them to cooperate and help you keep the meeting on schedule.  
  • Manage participant behavior:  You need their cooperation to have an efficient and effective meeting.  Ask for their help.  For the "over eager participant" give them time to say what's on their mind but be sure others get a chance to speak as well.  For the "monopolizer" same thing.  Ask the "silent" member for their opinion on a topic.  Side conversations need to be addressed and stopped.  They are a waste of time.  Ask for their cooperation in keeping on tract.  
Ask yourself:
  1. Did the meeting go as you expected?
  2. How could you have improved your management of the meeting?  
  3. Did you have good member attendance?  What do you do to encourage attendance?
  4. Did you start and end the meeting on time?
  5. Did you cover all items on the agenda?
  6. Were guests and potential members introduced and greeted warmly?  Make them feel that this is where they need to be.  
  7. Did most of the club members participate in the meeting?  Were all questions answered?
  8. Was discussion and decisions that were made understood by all members?
Do this self-evaluation as soon after the meeting as you can so it's still fresh in your mind.  Make a list for the next meeting of items to follow up on and who's going to do it.  

What follow up will be required for the next meeting?  
  1. Was there a proposed new idea or project that requires more information?  If so, where can you find that information, who's going to research, who will report back to the club?
  2. Did a committee not complete their report on time?  When committees don't come prepared to give a report, how can you be sure they're ready at the next meeting?  After several postponements, the report tends to die....
  3. Provide members with a list of dates to remember.
  4. Publish minutes in a monthly newsletter.  
  5. Email minutes soon after the meeting while they're fresh in everyone's mind and so they know what they've been assigned to do or volunteered to do.  
If you don't follow up:
  1. Items tend to get forgotten.
  2. Members are not kept in the loop.
  3. Projects don't get completed.
  4. If you have to carry items over to the next meeting or cover things that didn't get covered, your next meeting may run over its allotted time.
  5. Decisions will get postponed repeatedly.
  6. Guests will become skeptical that your club will ever take action to support their program.
  7. New ideas never get discussed or adopted.  
It was suggested that you use a Meeting Follow-Up Worksheet that includes columns for the following:  Project name, Action Required, Person(s) Responsible, Date Required, and a column to show that you contacted them for follow up.  

There are several resources available on LCI that will help us have effective meetings.  
  1. How Are Your Ratings (ME 15, ME 15b):   This is a good tool to hand out to your members and get their feedback.  They must not feel threatened by giving honest answers.  Include members not in attendance.  
  2. Club Excellence Process:  This interactive process will show where your club is today and where you want it to be tomorrow.  
  3. Member Satisfaction Guide (ME 301):  Not all members leave the club for the same reason.  Find out how you can improve. 
Why is managing effective meetings important?
  • Keeps members involved, engaged, having fun.
  • You want members to keep coming back.
  • Accomplishes objectives.
  • It gets everyone involved in doing what they feel is important.  Find out their interests and expertise.  
  • Unproductive meetings are frustrating and a waste of time.  
But the bottom line is.... was it an effective meeting?  At the end of the meeting, ask yourself, "what would I have missed if I hadn't come?"  Good advice!  

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