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Avoiding “Death by Meeting!”

Posted on the 09 May 2011 by Caryschmidt

Avoiding “Death by Meeting!”

Have you ever attended a meeting that drove you to the brink of insanity? Bad meetings are long, repetitive, and in-actionable. In other words, you sit forever through a lot of discussion, much of which may have nothing to do with you, that leads no where. You leave the meeting with no benefit—no information that impacts your work life, no items upon which to act, and no mentoring that you can employ. These are really bad meetings. If you conduct meetings—don’t do this to people.

Here’s a short list for a meeting that is worth having, and worth sitting through:


Keep It Short—make every meeting as brief as possible. Start by setting a time limit, and do your best to keep it. If you are paying people, this is wise stewardship. If they are volunteers, this is respect for their time and commitments.

Keep It Essential—ask yourself “what really requires a meeting?” Can I communicate this just as well in writing? Can we just send everyone an email? Are there easier ways to accomplish this other than holding a meeting. If there’s a better, more efficient way to communicate, then use it. Limit meetings to that which is essential for meeting.

Keep It Spiritual—one of the best purposes of a ministry meeting is to pray and be reminded that this team is completely dependent upon the Lord. Another is to sense, in person, how everyone is doing—at a heart level. You can visually see who is discouraged, who is tired, who is healthy, etc. Spiritual evaluation and encouragement are great reasons for meetings.

Keep It Focused—if you find yourself getting bogged down on one or more items, agree to pray and think on it for later discussion, then move on. Quickly kill stale discussions. Keep the meeting moving, or you will lose attention and communicate that you do not value the time of others.

Keep It Positive—meetings are really bad environments for reprimands—and rarely do public reprimands inspire genuine growth. Unless everyone needs the reprimand, handle the negative stuff privately. The shame and humiliation inflicted in public does worse damage than the original action. Secure leaders handle reprimands privately. Insecure leaders use public reprimands to humiliate and to reinforce their authority. Bad practice. Keep the meeting encouraging and inspiring.

Keep It Beneficial—if you bring something beneficial to the team, they will appreciate the meeting. As a leader, it’s your job to inspire, to encourage, to motivate, and to mentor the team. Meetings can be either incredibly discouraging or incredibly encouraging. Bring something that will encourage and equip your team. Thank them, and remind them of how much fun it is to serve God together.

Keep It Agenda Driven—start the meeting with an agenda of what to talk about. You might start with the calendar, a project list, questions from the team, and then discussion about special needs. Plan your agenda before you start your meeting, and then stick to it.

One final noteDON’T HOST a meeting, if you are EXHAUSTED, FRUSTRATED, or otherwise DEPLETED. You would be much better to rest, restore, and bring a good spirit and kind countenance to your team. I’ve made this mistake more than I can admit, and those meetings never go well, and people never leave encouraged.

What would you add to this list? What are good meetings made of? Add your thoughts below…

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