Sometimes it can seem that scouting revolves around meetings. With this in mind we must be sure before we call a meeting that there really is a need for it, and it’s not just a meeting for meetings sake.
This section suggests the considerations relevant to meetings. If you are holding a short, informal meeting, only a handful of these items may need to be addressed. For a meeting with major consequences or decisions to be made all or most may need your careful attention.
Before your meetings
- Be sure you're clear on the stated goal
- Be sure that everyone attending the meeting is clear on the stated goal
- Determine what your personal goal is with the group as a whole
- If possible, reduce the number of people to only those necessary to accomplish the goal
- Prepare more. Envision the meeting as you would like it to take place, and determine what must be done in the way of further specific preparation to make your desired vision a reality
- Establish a comfortable meeting environment (including style, location, room size, seating and lighting) consistent with your goal
- Consult with any participants or others whose co-operation is necessary in order to meet the goal
- Establish a clear and appropriately detailed agenda, and circulate it and any other support materials in advance
- Do your homework, and go at least one step beyond the expectations of the people attending the meeting
- Be aware of the particular customs, rules and etiquette for the meeting.
Is there a set date for the meeting?
If it is always the first Monday of the month it will always be convenient and inconvenient for the same people. Having set dates, give as much pre-notification as possible.
Compile and issue an agenda
Ensure there are enough items to make the meeting worthwhile. If there is nothing to bring people together for, cancel the meeting, but always try to give sufficient warning of this. Whenever possible allow people the opportunity to contribute to the agenda.
Control the running of your meeting so that you always start and finish on time so those attending will know what commitment they are making and can make plans for transport, child care, etc.
Consider providing refreshments
This could be before the meeting, between items as a break, or afterwards to allow for a friendly exchange of news.
Open (or close) some people like to open or close meetings with a reading or prayer.
Apologies for absence keep a note of attendance so those not present can be updated later. Is it always the same people who do not come? If so, why?
Minutes of the previous meeting circulate these in advance so people have a chance to read them. It’s a good idea to have a ‘Minute Secretary’ to take minutes during the meeting.
Matters arising an opportunity to follow up on any item or questions that were asked at the previous meeting, (But not to have the discussion again!)
District/County there may be information to be passed on from the District or County.
Consultation any items which require feedback or views from the District. In turn, you can pass on the responses to the County.
Future events not to plan in detail, but to suggest ideas, put dates in diaries, select a team or responsible Group or person, hear progress reports and review previous events.
Training or ‘focus on…’ meetings are ideal opportunities to introduce a regular element of training. The topic will depend on those attending but make sure it is relevant and fun for all, otherwise it will be seen as boring or irrelevant.
Any other business items not placed on the agenda before the meeting.
Date, time and venue of next meeting.
Here’s a great checklist for successful proactive meetings
- Only meet if you really need to
- Plan exactly what you want to achieve
- Invite useful, interesting people
- Let people know why you’re meeting
- Make sure everyone knows each other
- Control airtime. Hear from everybody
- Beware of agenda hijackers. Stay focused
- Finish before people mentally leave
- Agree who does what when
- Follow up individually - you’ll learn stuff.
Note: You need to be sensitive to the number of meetings people have to attend. Try to make sure all meetings you run are necessary, useful and worthwhile.