Planning committee meetings

We concentrate so much on making sure that we plan successful den and pack meetings and that the boys plan effective troop meetings that sometimes we neglect to consider what makes for an effective committee meeting. Just as with troop meetings, we can divide things up into before the meeting, during the meeting, and after the meeting. In this article we’ll look at what to do before the meeting.

Just as with a troop meeting, a successful committee meeting is planned in advance. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. You can do all of the needed follow-up, but without an effective meeting plan to start, your results will be disappointing.

Good planning starts with the follow-up from the previous meeting. Actually, it starts by adopting a meeting schedule on an annual basis. It’s helpful for committee members to know meeting dates and exceptions to the norm well ahead of time. Review the agenda, minutes and your notes from the previous meeting. Make notes of what needs to be brought forward and discussed, committee reports that are expected, and other followup. Try to anticipate what other agenda items could be needed. Ask your committee members to submit agenda items as well. Look over your list and note what outcome you are expecting or hoping for. As Stephen Covey says, begin with the end in mind.

Now’s the time to compose your agenda for the meeting. Because there are so many aspects to agenda design, we’ll take it up in the next article in this series.

Make sure the key people can attend. Some topics can be handled with written reports, but if you need to discuss buying more tents or fixing the trailer, and your equipment coordinator can’t make the meeting, consider postponing or tabling the topic if makes for a more timely discussion.

It should be obvious, but be sure to announce your meeting to the committee! Don’t just expect people to show up on the third Tuesday, or whenever your meetings are usually held. Use e-mail to inform everyone and ask them to confirm their participation, especially if they are a key committee member or involved in one of the business items. It can be frustrating if you have a service project item on your agenda and your committee member in charge of public service not only can’t make it but doesn’t tell you beforehand. Send out an announcement about a week before the meeting, and a reminder a day or two prior.

Distribute and review any pre-work well before the meeting. How many meetings have you attended where the facilitator or topic leader passes out a stack of paper just as the discussion is starting? Your meeting turns into a group read-in, which really stifles productivity. Providing pre-work, charts, reports, proposals, etc., at least 48 hours before the meeting, and earlier if you can, really helps to improve meeting success. Distributing your pre-work, with the serious expectation that attendees will actually read it ahead of time, can save you time and boost productivity.

Make sure committee members know their responsibilities. Those who are involved in acting on discussion items either need to attend or provide their contribution ahead of time. Committee members should read the previous minutes and any other meeting materials that have been distributed, so they don’t have to read them during the meeting, and any questions should be clarified with the chair or the secretary beforehand.

Next: Agenda planning

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