Doing the best for your club means getting maximum value from your committee or management team. You'll meet regularly, so following these simple steps will help you to spend as long as you need to sort out the club's business - and no longer.
Before the meeting
Does this need to be a meeting?
First things first, do you need a meeting, or is this simply a fixture in the diary? If 2020 has taught us anything, it's to reevaluate what's important, so do you all actually need to commit this time together? Is there anything here that could be covered off with an email or achieved by a sub-committee having the discussion instead?
Publish an agenda in advance
Meeting agendas give everyone a chance to prepare materials and gather thoughts and questions on the topics being discussed. Typically there will be standing items, for example:
- Chair/Manager's report
- Secretary's report
- Treasurer's report
You may have other roles, such as Social Secretary or Webmaster to consider too. It would be unusual if the first three roles didn't have anything to contribute, but it's fine not to have the other contributions for each and every meeting, depending on what's going on with the club, the time of year, etc.
- Each agenda item should have a clear purpose. Instead of "fundraising 2022", say "establish fundraising goal for 2022" if that's what you mean.
- Order your agenda items in terms of priority, so that if any items overrun, you'll have covered the most important topics each time.
- Allocate approximate times to each item, so you can size up the number of topics with the proposed length of the meeting.
- Use the Any Other Business (AOB) agenda item to capture any thoughts or questions that may have been prompted by the published agenda items.
Choose the right location...
Work out where you can meet that will be quiet enough for you to have a focused meeting for an hour or two.
Even though we've all been meeting over Zoom for the past year, it's not unheard of for committee meetings to be held in the back rooms of pubs and workingmen's halls, These can provide some great facilities, but check there isn't a football match being screened in the next room, or that your room isn't the thoroughfare to the toilets!
Consider having a venue rota whereby you can meet in different committee members' houses, for example (when that's permitted by law, of course).
...at the most suitable time
Exactly when your committee can meet will depend on what your club does, avoiding its usual training or rehearsal time, and subject to the availability of the venue etc. Most committees will meet monthly, with a flexibility of a week either way, should any diary collisions arise.
Fridays are best avoided if possible, as people wind-down for the weekend or have travel plans and may not be able to make it. Mondays and Tuesdays are usually strong candidates in our experience.
Define the roles before the meeting
Define who will lead the meeting and who will be taking notes for the minutes. Making this clear upfront will ensure that people are focused on the job at hand and minimises the risk that anything discussed will be missed.
At the meeting
Start on time
Set an expectation from the start that the meeting is important and will start on time. Getting into the habit of waiting 5 or 10 minutes for people sends the signal that it's OK to be late and disrespect everyone else's time. If you regularly get late arrivals, consider rearranging your meeting start time for everyone.
Accept the previous meeting's minutes
Ask for a proposer and seconder to accept the previous meeting's minutes as valid and true. Ask for any objections. This formal stage helps prevent any acrimony later on, as everyone has had the chance to raise any issue with the minutes, after having had time to digest them fully since the last meeting.
Remind participants that the contents of the meeting do not leave the four walls (even if you're meeting virtually). This will encourage participants to speak freely and frankly.
Avoid distractions, minimise interruptions
Ensure the venue knows you aren't to be disturbed and have a policy of putting laptops and phones away, unless they're essential to the meeting. Schedule a comfort break in your meeting so that people have the opportunity to catch up with anything that needs their attention.
Whilst not everyone will have something to say each time, it's important they have the opportunity. People will contribute more if they feel involved.
A good chairperson usually speaks last with their own view on a topic, so as not to give any unintentional steer. They will also note who hasn't contributed to the discussion so far, and give them the direct opportunity to do so.
Record clear actions and assign owners
The Secretary will record agreed actions, the owner(s) and the timescale for resolution or reporting back, which is often at the next meeting. Make sure that no one committee member becomes the dumping ground for work - share the load.
Don't be afraid to finish early
Should you get through your agenda items and everyone is satisfied that a thorough discussion has taken place, end the meeting. Time is precious and you needn't pad-out the meeting unnecessarily.
Set the date of the next meeting
While you've got everyone there, now is an excellent time to set the date of the next meeting, and you may even be able to confirm it with the venue at the same time.
After the meeting
Write-up and distribute the minutes as soon as you reasonably can after the meeting, while memories are still fresh and members can challenge any inconsistencies that might arise.