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On-Site Staff / Partnerships and Building Relationships / Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management / Uncategorized

Not Your Mother’s Meeting: 4 Ways to Creating Meaningful Meetings (PT 1)

Do you ever go to a meeting and wonder why you came?  Do your meetings lack the fun and energy that keep people engaged and ready to participate?

Personally, I think meetings should be limited to an hour max (whenever possible).  This year, I’ve had the pleasure of organizing and moderating our 2017 Youth Philanthropy Webinar Series, a four-part series designed to support next-gen leadership and giving opportunities through real-world examples and resources from experts all over the country.  The first session, Not Your Mother’s Meeting, shared best tips and tricks for successful meetings that don’t look anything like the ones your mother may have attended!  Here are the top tricks and strategies for fun and engaging meetings with your staff and youth participants and to help you avoid the pitfalls of Every Meeting Ever. (Do you recognize any of your co-workers in that video, perhaps the nay-sayer, rambler, dominator, or social media queen?)

1. Setting the Stage

 Make sure your meeting is set-up for success by ensuring that all participants can see each other in the room.  U-shaped setups and large rectangular conference tables work well.  Providing candy and fidget items on the table may sound counterintuitive, but playing with items such as playdoh, pipe cleaners, fidget spinners, and squishy toys actually help meeting participants refocus.  My two favorite fidget items are Tangles and Floam.  Paper, pens, markers, and post-it notes are all great tabletop items to encourage note taking and sharing of ideas.  Several youth programs re-use table tents with the names and school of their youth.  Those table tents are then moved around meeting to meeting so the teens get to know new people and avoid cliques by sitting next to the same person each meeting. Create an “Ask-it Basket” or “Parking Lot” where meeting participants can share ideas and post questions. Using post-it notes on flip-chart paper or the chat box in a webinar are great strategies for meeting participation.  Build in one or more sixty-second “brain dumps” into the meeting for ideas and questions. This is a great way to separate agenda topics and brainstorm ideas.  Delegation is also important for strong meetings.  Recognize your own strengths and weaknesses and give other staff and youth leadership opportunities to conduct parts of the meeting.

2. Up-front Contract and Openers

What is the end goal for your meeting?  Use an up-front contract to help meeting participants know what they’re in for and what to expect from the meeting.  Use flip-chart paper to write up the main goals for the meeting.  Set the time expectation for the meeting length. Create an agenda with the key points of the meeting.  Another way to bring your pre-occupied co-workers and youth participants back into focus is to start the meeting with engaging openers.  Because let’s face it, we all have a billion things on our mind from sick kids to finishing that next report.  Using an opener like an inspirational or funny video, amusing picture, joke, or activity can help focus everyone on the meeting.  For the webinar, we used the Every Meeting Ever video to set the stage for the topic.  Simple discussion questions like “What is your favorite part of fall?” or “Share a point of light in your professional or personal life,” are easy ways to get everyone’s attention and focus while learning more about your co-workers and youth participants.

For breakfast  I had: Siggi’s Yogurt, coffee with almond milk, eggs with veggies. 

Editors  Note: If you enjoyed Part 1, please visit us for the next set of tips on how to create focused and engaging meetings on Tuesday, October 31.



Feature Image Photo Credit: SPED Strategies and Resources

Author: @jillgordon

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