Talley Q&A: Effective Meeting Strategies

Our team of meeting experts have come together to provide a Q&A with our most commonly asked questions. Join Leslie Teris, JD, CAE; Samantha Whitfield, MCP; Kristin Burke, CMP; and Brent Schwartz to learn the most effective meeting strategies for associations. Our skilled team tackles some of the frequent questions that have arisen at our weekly executive director meetings, specifically related to meeting effectiveness.

Question: My board has so many meetings, the volume is out of control, what do I do?

Answer: Condense meetings if the same people are involved, do more by email, and adjust the frequency if possible. Address it with the leadership if possible, citing that the quality of the meetings is always better than the quantity of the meetings. This also ensures that everyone’s time is respected.

Question: My committee shows up to calls and no one has read the materials, we end up just recapping things we've done and not making decisions on how to move forward - how do I get them to prepare and stay focused?

Answer: Making sure everyone is prepared is one of the most effective meeting strategies. Encourage people to participate with action items, call on people so they start to learn they had better come prepared (social pressure), send reminders ahead of time, and communicate the importance of using these meetings as strategy sessions. It’s also a good idea to circulate a nonprofit board meeting agenda to make sure everyone knows what will be discussed so they can better prepare.

Question: I feel like I have too many internal meetings, do I need to tell my team to stop scheduling them?

Answer:

  • Suggest a shorter length – sometimes 15 minutes is enough!

  • Try not to schedule back-to-back meetings

  • Use tools/timelines to stay on the same page and reduce the need for meetings

  • Remember that pre-COVID, you may have more spontaneous meetings that would take up your day. It can sometimes seem overwhelming now that most meetings are all scheduled with many being remote.

Question: There are no topics for me on the agenda, do I still need to attend?

Answer: Be considerate of all participants. If someone is not required to attend, let them know so as not to waste their time. Taking this further, consider the flow of the agenda. If certain participants are only needed for a specific part, consider putting that piece at the beginning of the agenda so they can leave after their portion.

Question: How can we keep the agenda tight but still provide all required updates?

Answer: Not all information needs to be talked about. Consider providing items “For Information Only” in advance of the meeting. This information is important to disseminate but not required on the formal agenda.

Question: Any strategies to help control multitasking during calls?

Answer: It is important to keep participants engaged, as you do not want to turn the meeting into a lecture. Switch up speakers, keep topics short and to the point, use different methods to relay the information, and whenever possible, have attendees participate.

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Meetings are a necessary tool for organizational success, but they don’t have to be a stale process. Improving your sessions with effective meeting strategies can help you get the most of everyone’s time. Do you have a topic you’d like to see our association experts address on our blog? Reach out with your questions!