I’ll bet you’ve been to meetings that were a total waste of your time.
Unfortunately, lousy meetings are all too common. And the time suck is only one of the consequences. Poorly planned meetings also sap people’s energy and dampen their enthusiasm for your project.
But if your meetings are great, people will leave feeling energized and excited and committed to your cause.
Why do Meetings Matter for Capital Campaign Fundraising?
Because capital campaigns are meeting-intensive!
Throughout your campaign, you’ll have meeting after meeting.
You’ll have meetings of staff and volunteers. You’ll have steering committee meetings, campaign planning meetings, meetings to plan the campaign kick off, and prospect review meeting, to name just a few.
So before you get very far down the capital campaign road, make sure you know what it takes to plan a great meeting.
5 Steps to Make Your Meetings Rock!
Here’s a five step process that’ll help you make sure that every one of your meetings moves your campaign forward and adds excitement and energy.
1. Know why you are planning a meeting.
Before you invite people to a meeting, figure out what you want to accomplish.
Meetings have many purposes. You might want to use a meeting to:
- Share information
- Advance the thinking on a particular topic
- Build a sense of community
- Make specific decisions
You might combine more than one purpose. Start your planning by figuring out the priorities of what you want to accomplish.
Once you know the purpose of your meeting, then you can figure out who should be there, what should be on the agenda and how to design the meeting process to achieve those outcomes.
Resist the temptation to schedule a meeting just to disseminate information. You can do that in better ways that don’t require getting people together.
Instead, make information available before your meeting and use the meeting time to take best advantage of the collective energy of the group.
When you invite people, let them know what the meeting is designed to accomplish and why you have invited them. Be specific about what you expect from them and clear about what will be required of them.
2. Develop the meeting agenda.
Prepare a written agenda for your meeting and distribute a draft of it to the participants well before the meeting.
On the agenda, include a statement of the goals of the meeting. Also provide any other specific information people will need including start and end times and location details.
Make available any information people should review before the meeting and let them know it’s important.
3. Design the meeting process.
People often develop a meeting agenda and think their planning is done. But designing the group process is every bit as important as developing the agenda.
Once again, what you want to accomplish in the meeting will determine the process design. And different sections of the meeting may well require different process designs.
Here are six simple facilitation formats you’ll find useful:
- Structured go-around: Present a topic. Ask each person for his or her thoughts, going around the group person by person. Suggest a time limit for each participant.
- Listing and then prioritizing ideas: Ask the group for ideas about a specific topic and capture them on a flip chart. Then ask the group to vote for the ideas they find most compelling or important.
- Small group break-outs: Assign small subgroups and ask each of them to discuss the topic and come back with three items they’d like to bring to the entire group. When the large group reassembles, each group reports.
- Q&A: Rather than having lengthy presentations, ask the people with information to present to be very brief, presenting only the headlines in 2 or 3 minutes. Then invite the rest of the group to ask questions. That’s a more engaging way to share information.
- Individual writing: Ask each person to write down his or her ideas about a specific topic. Then invite group discussion. This process ensures that everyone becomes engaged.
- Open discussions: If your group is small and cohesive, you can use an open discussion. But be sure to put a time limit on the discussion. Get the group to summarize the results and determine the follow through.
4. Conduct the Meeting
Start right on time, even if people are still straggling in. And plan to end a few minutes early! If you get in the habit of ending early, people will be happy to participate in meetings you run.
Begin your meeting by reviewing the objectives and the time allotted.
Keep the meeting on track. Follow the agenda and implement the group processes you’ve designed.
To increase participation, assign roles to other people. Ask someone to keep track of time and someone to take notes, and maybe even someone to keep track of topics to follow up on later.
5. Follow Up and Follow Through
After the meeting, follow up with every participant, thanking them for their contributions and getting any after-the-meeting suggestions they might have. If you take the time to contact each person who was at the meeting, you will both deepen your relationship with them, but you will also find out things that didn’t come up in the larger group. And don’t forget to get in touch with the people who couldn’t be there to fill them in.
Distribute the notes from the meeting or a list of who is going to do what and what’s next.
Make Every Meeting a Success
If you’re really good at makings meetings work, you’ll be more successful. And not just at capital campaign fundraising, but at anything you do that requires the participation of a group. And that’s most everything. Right?
I’ve just scratched the surface of what makes meetings work in this post. But everything you need to know about meetings is captured in this most remarkable book, The Facilitator’s Guide to Participatory Decision-Making by Sam Kaner and his colleagues.
What do you do to keep your meetings on track? Share with us in the comments.