What’s the typical meeting like at your church? Whether it’s a staff meeting, creative meeting or individual team meeting, does each one tend to be productive and efficient? Or is it something you dread when you see it on the calendar?
Meetings are a necessary—but often fruitless—part of life as a communications leader in the church. Everyone’s time is valuable, so how do we make the most of meetings and ensure they are an effective tool for our ministries?
Here are a few ways to have productive meetings in your church:
1. To Meet or Not?
In light of what you’re trying to accomplish, ask yourself if a meeting is actually necessary. If your goal is to communicate a message to your team and it requires no interaction or feedback, maybe it’s something that can be said in an email or message board instead. But if you need a creative meeting to brainstorm themes for a new sermon series, then a meeting would probably be the best approach.
2. Get the Right People
Once you’ve decided a meeting is necessary, you’ll need to figure out who should join in. In most cases, inviting the least number of people to a meeting will yield the most productive results. Only invite those who can specifically help achieve the goal for the meeting. It’s counterproductive to ask everyone to join if you know that only two or three people will actually contribute and move the meeting forward.
3. Time Is Ticking
We’ve all been in that meeting that drags on for hours. The one that was only supposed to last 30 minutes. If you are the one who calls the meeting, be sure to set both a start time and an end time. And most importantly, when the allotted time is up, end the meeting promptly. Even if you haven’t accomplished what you hoped for, ending the meeting on time shows that you value your team’s time.
When you set the meeting, don’t feel trapped by staying within typical meeting length times. Can you accomplish the task in 15 minutes? Or do you really need two full hours? Just remember that attention spans are limited, so the longer the meeting, the less productive it tends to be.
4. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
In his book Leadership Gold, John Maxwell writes, “Having good, productive meetings is really a matter of preparation and planning.” This is true whether you’re holding a small team meeting or a large, staff-wide communications meeting. Well before the meeting (at least a few days if possible) you’ll want to communicate these things to everyone you’re inviting:
- The date, time and location of the meeting.
- The agenda and purpose of the meeting.
- What each person will be expected to contribute or prepare ahead of time.
- Any pre-work they should do, e.g., research, reading or thinking.
Communicating these things prior to the meeting helps your team be better prepared. If they’ve done what you asked, they will bring better ideas and they’ll show up already knowing what to expect. This is especially helpful in any meeting held to generate ideas, such as a creative series brainstorming. Rather than finding out about the next series when they arrive, your team will have already done some research, sorted through visuals and creative elements, and be that much closer to nailing down the specifics. Plus, not everyone thinks their best on the spot.
5. Now What?
What happens after the meeting is over? Hopefully you have something to go do. Every meeting should have action items. Take a few minutes at the end to review action items and make sure it’s clear what everyone is supposed to do next.
6. Keep It Focused
If you’re leading a meeting, the biggest hurdle to productivity can be that your team is distracted or not entirely focused on what’s happening in the meeting. If you find this is the case, try changing things up. Move the meeting to different locations. If it’s feasible, have everyone put away their smartphones and other devices for a time. Take a break to regroup. Or even do a quick icebreaker or creative brain exercise to engage everyone.
Take a few moments before diving into your meeting to ask for God’s guidance. This might seem like a no-brainer for a church communications team—prayer is required, right?—but it’s an opportunity to invite divine inspiration. We’re not telling any old story or marketing the latest gizmo. We’re telling God’s story. So we should seek his leading.
It doesn’t have to be fancy or long-winded, but prayer can help put us in the proper mindset.
How About You?
Meetings are a great tool, but only if they are efficient and productive. What are some other ideas you have for better meetings?