By Chuck Lawless
Over the years, I’ve been in a lot of staff meetings in different organizations. As I think about those meetings, here are the characteristics of meetings I thought were most productive:
1. The leader was a man whose spiritual walk I trusted. I cannot underestimate the power of this truth. When I genuinely trust the leader, I’m ready to listen. On the other hand, I dreaded going to meetings led by someone whose walk with God I questioned.
2. The people gathered were people I knew and loved. That is, the team really was a team. We knew each other’s families. We played together outside of the office. Meetings were fun because we were a team living out a vision.
3. The meetings were prayer-saturated. Prayer was not just a perfunctory beginning and ending task. We seriously prayed for each other, for the organization, for God’s vision and guidance. In some meetings, we prayed more than we discussed.
4. They started and ended on time. The amount of time varied, particularly because of our commitment to prayer – but we knew exactly how much time to set aside. The leader respected our time.
5. We had a clear agenda from the beginning. We had no question as we went to the meeting that we were going to discuss stuff that mattered. If we ever varied from the agenda, the reason for doing so was obvious and necessary.
6. Every person there was enlisted ahead of time to contribute. This aspect I especially appreciated – the leader asked each of us ahead of time to bring something to the table. We thus had time to prepare, and we knew our voice was going to be heard.
7. Discussion was real – not just reports or announcements. Too many staff meetings are quick reports from staff and a monologue from the leader. The best meetings I’ve attended have been decidedly different.
8. The leader reigned in diverting conversations. That’s because we had a plan at the start and a goal to reach.
9. The leader shepherded us more than supervised us. Here’s what I felt after leaving these best meetings: informed, challenged, excited, appreciated, and loved. My leader asked me about me, encouraged me, and made me want to be on the team. A good leader can do that even in a brief meeting.
10. My action steps were clear at the end. Before we left the room, I knew exactly what my next steps were to be. I could write them down and then get started.
What other characteristics of a good meeting would you add?