5 elements that foster great meetings

By Jim LaDoux
The longer you lead, the more you’ll find yourself in meetings. They might be staff meetings, departmental meetings, board meetings, one-on-one meetings, or meetings with your volunteers, but there is never a shortage of meetings for leaders to attend. At the same time, we’ve all found ourselves in meetings that were poorly led and a total waste of our time. So, what does an effective team meeting look like? Consider embedding the 5 elements listed below in your upcoming meetings.

The first part of the meeting is focused on celebrating wins. Celebrating wins will remind your team of the value and meaning of their work. Spend 5-10 minutes of a meeting celebrating items from these four categories:
  • Stories – What stories of life change, connection, or transformation can we celebrate?
  • Stats – In what areas of our ministry or organization are we seeing transformation?
  • Steps – What progress are we making with our goals and priorities?
  • Success – Which team member can we celebrate for modeling our our values?

The communication part of the meeting is usually no more than 10 minutes, but it can eliminate confusion and keep everyone on the same page. It may include reviewing the church calendar, confirming plans for the upcoming week, and discussing what team members need from each other. Keep comments brief using simple bullet-point updates.

Collaboration is the part of the meeting where you dig into items that require concentrated discussion. This part of the meeting is roughly 20-40 minutes long. If it’s going to take longer than that, I’ll usually schedule a separate meeting for it.  Avoid having more than one or two topics to address at a single meeting.

Does you team place a high value on personal and professional growth? If so, allocate 30-minutes at each meeting (or at least one meeting in a given month) to learn and grow together.  This may be watching a Youtube video, discussing a book, hearing highlights from a recent conference, or crowdsourcing ideas and best practices.  

This part of the meeting can play out in two ways—spiritual connection and relational connection. Spiritual connection is where we take time to pray as a team, share our faith journey, dwell on scripture, or discuss our callings in life. Relational connection is where you take a few minutes to add a fun or relationally focused discussion to the meeting. You might even do a team lunch following the meeting to facilitate greater connection.

Experiment with embedding the five elements into your team meetings. Celebrate what you're already doing to and find ways to make them more impactful. If your meetings are brief or frequent, you may wish to break up these elements where you cover 2-3 element in one meeting and remaining ones at a future meeting. Adapt these elements in ways that best fit your time constraints. 

Questions | Applications

  1. Which elements already show up in your meetings?
  2. Which element needs further attention?
  3. What types of leadership development would you find helpful for your teams?
  4. Do you change the design of your meetings based on what seek to accomplish?
  5. On a scale of 1-10 (10=very meaningful/productive), how would you rate your meetings?
  6. If you were in charge of leading the meeting, what's one change you'd make to the agenda or format?
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