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Turning Meetings Into Doings

Many years ago a friend at church invited me to join his committee. “Jeff”, he said, “we only get together once a month for an hour. I’m sure you can spare time for a worthy cause.” How could I refuse such a promising offer? I joined with enthusiasm, wanting to make a difference in my church. However, I quickly learned that most of us know; many meetings are a waste of time.

“We only meet once a month for an hour.” How many times have you heard that sound? You just bought-in to be drawn into a group just because someone said they met. Then you finally meet for an hour and a half of less directed conversations. This may have been followed by an agreement to meet again to continue the discussions. Then you learned to lead and you took those same lessons with you. This abuse of meetings has led to the reputation we’ve earned for holding meetings just for the sake of holding meetings.

Although meetings are an essential part of volunteer project management, they are far from necessary. Meetings are often convened for the wrong reasons, causing group members to resent wasting time. Some leaders confuse meetings with success or action. Some misuse meetings as a method of communicating information, exercising authority, visiting, or publishing ideas. Members leave without impact, input, or a sense of accomplishment.

However, this frustration can be avoided by following six simple steps. Your meetings will have a positive impact on your project if you can follow these rules: identify the need, calculate the cost, set up the meeting, create the agenda, lead the meeting, and finally follow up.

First, define the need for the meeting. Most problems can be solved with a quick phone call, email, office call, or a chat in the hallway. If there’s no reason for anyone to officially come in, then by all means avoid it. Save the meetings for the temporary and absolutely necessary times when everyone’s efforts are needed. Ask yourself the following questions: Can I do this with better communication? Is there another way to get the desired results? Can one person make decisions for the whole group? Am I the only one? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then don’t date.

Next, calculate the cost. When you decide you need a meeting, try to rule out another determining factor; cost The Essential Manager’s Manual, a textbook used in some graduate-level communications courses, uses a simple formula to figure out how much a meeting will cost. Add the combined salaries of the employees and expenses and then divide by the hours worked per year. For example, if your meeting requires the attendance of someone from the church staff and others from local businesses, you will need to estimate everyone’s salaries. Once you have the total, add miscellaneous expenses. These costs include the rental of a conference room, food costs, per diems for guest speakers, etc. Once you have the total, divide it by the working hours per year. Most businesses recognize 2,080 working hours per year. For example, if the group’s combined salary and miscellaneous expenses are $250,000, then the cost of an hourly meeting is $120.00. Ask yourself if the value of your meeting outweighs the cost.

Dollar amounts aren’t the only costs to consider with volunteers. Other costs are intangible. Although there is no set formula, as a guide, you should weigh these costs against the potential benefits. Since most meetings take place on weekends or evenings after work, you should consider these indirect costs for each member of your group. Poorly planned meetings cause volunteers and committee members to miss meals, miss out on playtime with the kids, not help with homework, stay away from friends and family, waste gas money, rearrange schedules. , react to last-minute events and put aside personal agendas. . Motivated volunteers expect to sacrifice for a good cause; However, they should not expect to waste valuable time.

Setting up the meeting decides who will attend and the goal or what you hope to accomplish. After you’ve determined the need and that the benefit of the meeting will outweigh the cost, then it’s time to set it up. Your committee’s bylaws may require everyone to be present, or you may decide that you need everyone to be present for planning purposes. Maybe you just need the key players in the organization. You have diligently calculated the financial and non-material costs and decided that the minimum contribution is better. Either way, this is very important to the group’s ability to act and the impact it will have.

Next, you need to map out what success looks like and plan back from there. If your congregation is to conduct training for a prayer walk in the surrounding neighborhoods during the next school vacation, use this to set the benchmarks. Identify the projected date, determine how long the training will last and decide when to start and how you will measure the results. From there you can meet the teachers who are developing the curriculum. Knowing and communicating the point of the meeting is a key factor in making it a great success.

Create an agenda to reinforce the purpose of the meeting. So far, we have discussed how to determine the needs and actions that are necessary for the meeting. An agenda is a powerful and effective tool to use before the actual meeting. The agenda is nothing more than the chronological order of the topics to be discussed in the meeting.

At this stage of preparation, pre-publishing the agenda to all invitees is a valuable tool that saves time. This allows them to prepare information, decisions or resources. With advance notice and a complete agenda, your group will be informed about what to expect, how to set their schedules and will feel valued as a member. Then, call everyone you invited to remind them of their agenda. This will prepare you for the tough questions and also help you relax and unwind before the meeting.

Finally, you can meet. Show up early and prepare the room. Work where participants will sit or stand. Strategic placement of key people will ensure maximum participation. Make sure your resources, notes and especially your agenda are at hand. When people reach them, they greet them and take them to their places. Start on a positive note and get everyone warmed up for the meeting. If you can “break the ice” before the meeting, you’ll have more time to target.

Begin the meeting by praying and asking the Lord to open hearts and minds, then begin the meeting by using the agenda. Establish and agree on ground rules for how you will submit disputes, privacy, input and who.

If you haven’t already done so, appoint someone to take the minutes of the meeting. Minutes are nothing more than a record of time, place, discussions and agreements made. Allow people to take detailed notes to turn into minutes at a later time. At this stage, their first step is to take a screenshot of the meeting.

Go through the agenda to update them on topics. Encourage input by asking open-ended questions as you go through the steps. For example, you might ask, “Who would you recommend we approach about teaching the prayer walk?” If you are good, you might get more offers and input than you expected. Most of it may be off the agenda, so be prepared to guide the conversation back. If someone wants to add something new, write it down and agree to hide it at a later time or date.

Finally, follow up. After the meeting ended, the agenda and agreements made and solutions were evaluated. Summarize the key points made and agree to follow up to check progress. Set goals and decide who has next action, and use points to measure achievements. Republish the agenda and distribute the minutes at a later date to keep the group informed of the outcome of the meeting.

Whether or not to hold a meeting is a big decision. Meetings for the sake of meeting are a waste of time and resources. Using the six steps outlined above will ensure that your required meetings have more impact. Such achievements improve morale and help volunteers stay motivated and focused on the goal. Then, when you invite someone to join your committee for an hour a month, you’ll establish trust and they’ll be excited to be a part of something powerful.


When meetings are done properly, they can produce great results. Using the following steps will help you conduct productive meetings:

• Define the need – What do you need the meeting for? Can you get the same results from a phone?
• Estimate the cost – How much will the meeting cost? Salary + Expenses = X/2080 hours per year.
• Arrange the meeting—Consider who you will invite and where you will hold the meeting.
• Prepare the agenda- Use the agenda to communicate the needs before the meeting.
• Hold the meeting-Set ground rules, take minutes, stick to the agenda.
• Review your agenda and distribute the minutes. Follow up on contracts.


An agenda is simply a list of topics in chronological order. Use the agenda to focus before, during and after the meeting. Below is an example of an agenda.

• 9:00 – 9:15 Opening Remarks/Introductions
• 9:15 – 9:30 Group Mission
• 9:30 – 9:45 Survey Results
• 9:45 – 9:55 Future Plans
• 9:55 – 10:00 Closing Remarks


A minute is an official record of the notes taken from the meeting. Be sure to record history, current events, issues and decisions. Use the minutes to follow up on deals.

• Date: 03.03.2006
• Contributors Present: John Richie, Shelby Mack, Lisa Reynolds and Doug Worth
• Location: First Baptist Church
• Problem #1: The date of the first Prayer Walk training session
• Resolution: Third Saturday in November. This will help us to start before the holidays
• Issue #2: The Subject of Education
• Solution: Pray and Walk in Faith. The goal is to have independent prayer groups within the church’s area of ​​influence.
• Follow up- We still need to contact the trainers and set up a place. We agree to meet again next week to finalize the details.

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