• They’re usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things.
• They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute.
• They drift off- subject easier than a Chicago cab in a snowstorm.
• They require thorough preparation that most people don’t have time for.
• They frequently have agendas so vague that nobody is really sure of the goal.
• They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense.
• Meetings procreate. One meeting leads to another meeting leads to another . . .
Meetings are toxic. Now don’t misunderstand me – meetings are important, but in my opinion, meetings are the worst kind of interruption. In ministry, no matter what your role is (lead pastor, executive pastor, worship pastor, communications director, children’s director, graphic designer, etc) the most important thing you can do is engage people. That’s the main priority. But churches and ministries hold a lot of meetings. It seems that there is always another reason why we need to have another meeting and sometimes these meetings are not the most successful or rather productive.
I mentioned that meetings are the worst kind of interruptions. Why? Because you must invest a lot of prep time to lead great meetings and a lot of prep time to be a part of great meetings. Unfortunately, most of us do not have a lot of time to prepare. That lack of preparation means they do not have a defined and fluid agenda. Because of this a good majority of our meetings tend to be haphazard and lacking of definitive action.
Perhaps the biggest time waster of all time (for me) is the way meetings procreate.
One meeting leads to another meeting leads to another meeting…
If you think about it, meetings ain’t cheap. They cost some moolah!
For example: When you invite ten people to an hour-long meeting, that really means 10 hours are being spent up – not just one hour. 10 people at 1 hour a piece. That’s 10 hours of productivity, time, resources, and salary devoted to one meeting.
Having Effective Meetings
Since we can’t eliminate meetings…I want to go through some tips that you (and me) can work at to make our meeting times more effective, productive, and valuable:
* Limit the number of people you invite. Keep meetings as small as possible. Try to have less than eight people a meeting. That way you can give everyone a chance to talk or ‘voice their opinions’. Too many people can cause a meeting to rapidly chart off course and lose its focus.
* Create a detailed agenda. Send the agenda out to everyone who will attend the meeting. I can’t tell you how many times my mind would wander about what a meeting’s topic would be about. And as always, worst case scenarios would play through over and over in my head and I would come into the meeting thinking the worst. I would recommend at least two days in advance. This will allow everyone attending to review the agenda and prepare on their own ahead of time. It also gives them time to compose any thoughts they may want to share.
* Start on time – Always. Do whatever you can to start on time. In college, I had a professor who would lock the door right at 8am. If class started at 8 and you got to the door at 8:01, the door was locked and you had to take an absence. You were not able to enter the classroom. Needless to say, we all learned very quickly to get to class on time.
* Set a timer. Whether on your iPhone, an alarm clock, a microwave or even having someone come in at the allotted time – set a time limit. If the meeting is set for 30 minutes, set your timer for 30 minutes. Scheduled for one hour – put a one hour timer. When that timer goes off, the meeting is done. No excuses. Make it known to everyone attending and have everyone agree that the meeting ends when the timer sounds.
- Start by defining a problem. If you can, hold the meeting at the site of the problem. For example: If the problem is you are not engaging guests well on Sunday mornings, go to the place or the site where the experience of the guest begins. Have the meeting at that location. This will help you see and address the problem in a more tangible manner.
- Be decisive. Make sure that you end the meeting with a solution. Map out action steps (thanks, Juanice!) and assign those responsibilities to out. By making a decision, you create momentum to make other decisions and that will help your organization accelerate in the right direction.
Recap: Limit the amount of meetings you schedule and have and increase the amount of time you spend outside of said meetings, engaging people. Reaching people is our ultimate mission. Don’t allow meetings to poison your ministry.