Topics – Top tips improve your meetings – Charity Digital News

From presenting a clear agenda to involving all participants, we look at some of the top tips for charities to improve their meetings
Meetings can be met with disdain by some workers. Too often they are seen as an unnecessary hindrance to their work, rather than helping them to improve.
Sometimes the apathy of staff members towards meetings is because they can be considered boring or not offering meaningful insight into their job or the organisation.
But rather than meetings being a bad thing, could it be that some organisations need a helping hand to run better meetings?
Here we guide charities through some of the top tips to improving their meetings and making sure they are interesting and engaging to staff.
The best way to run better meetings is to run less of them.
Charity leaders and managers need to ask themselves: ‘Is this meeting necessary’? Rather than set up a meeting where staff members may have to take an hour from busy schedules, it could be better to just send the information on a message via a work collaboration platform or fire off an email.
Remote meetings may be more appropriate and less time-consuming for workers, but even these are often unnecessary.
There is clearly a need to reduce the number of meetings, given the amount of time managers and staff members spend in them. Recent figures suggest that middle management spend 35% of their time in meetings, a proportion that rises to 50% among higher level management.
Worryingly, a survey by online learning platform Udemy found that 60% of workers believe meetings are a distraction to their job.
Once a charity has decided that a meeting is necessary a key tip is to ensure it has a clear agenda. This should be concise and focused. A successful agenda should also outline outcomes that the meeting hopes to achieve and clear action staff members can take.
The agenda must be focused on how the charity can improve and offer deliverable ways those attending can achieve that.
To support this clear agenda, meetings need strong leadership from a chairperson to keep aims on track. Discussions may drift off into tangents. Such issues may be for other meetings. The meeting’s chair needs to identify when items not on the agenda are beginning to be discussed and move the chat on to the meeting’s clear aims.
Timekeeping is another important role of the chair. Often those attending must get back to their desk to carry out other work and meet deadlines. A meeting that is over running is often an unsuccessful meeting that has drifted too far.
Finishing a meeting five minutes early may be advantageous for those attending, especially if they have another meeting scheduled straight afterwards. This gives them time to take a quick break and focus their mind on the next meeting.
To help those attending meetings to understand the agenda and clear aims, make sure key documents are circulated in advance. This will help attendees to prepare clear questions that have been well thought through, rather than formulated on the spot.
This preparation will also help ensure all those attending can contribute, rather than be passive observers.
A useful way of ensuring all those take part is for the meeting’s chair to start with those who are quiet, or new recruits to the organisation first.
They may offer a different perspective to those with more experience of a charity. Sometimes it can be ‘difficult to see the wood for the trees’ when staff members have been embedded in an organisation’s culture for a long time.
As the discussion builds up the chair should build up the seniority and experience of those attending. This ensures that all those attending get a chance to give their views.
When someone is talking, chairs are advised to keep an eye on other attendees to ensure they are not distracted, perhaps by emails or social media on their phones.
Any meeting that takes place needs to focus on how the organisation can improve. If it doesn’t have that aim, then it may not be a meeting that is worth having.
Vital to this focus on improvement is the takeaways for those attending. These are actionable ideas that attendees take away with them.
At the end of the meeting the charity should send these clear ideas out via a work collaboration platform or email. These should focus on any new ideas raised or decisions reached, as well as how staff members can follow this up.
Focusing on meeting takeaways avoids confusion and gives a meeting added value.
Sometimes a virtual or remote meeting may be more appropriate, as it cuts down on travel and ensures workers can spend more time focusing on day-to-day tasks.
This is particular the case in blended working arrangements, which combine work and home and have become more regularly used post-COVID-19 pandemic.
Remote meetings can be just as effective as physical meetings. This is especially true if there is a clear agenda, a focus on involving all participants, and deliverable takeaways. Popular platforms among organisations for staging a virtual meeting include Zoom and Microsoft Teams.


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