Meetings are unavoidable in an association. Large group meetings, national meetings, small committee meetings, board meetings… they all have an essential function for your association and are absolutely essential.
But are they?
It’s easy to get meeting-ed out. Plus when there are a ton of meetings, it could prove to be a time commitment issue for some members and that could drive away participation and engagement. We definitely don’t want that, so how many meetings is too many?
The answer is (as it often is with association) is that it depends on your specific group. But there are some ways you can make meetings more efficient, convenient, and streamlined and your members will like that no matter what. Here are some helpful hints.
Try combining meetings.
If you have an annual national meeting, for example, see if you can pencil in some time (maybe around a meal or before the day’s events, like breakfast) to get together. Members will have already devoted their time to the bigger event, so an hour here or there may not be seen as a huge inconvenience. Get them where they already are, I always say. Break out meetings are hard to ignore. If you are an attendee, just tack on another 45 minutes to your calendar. If not, you may be inspired to join!
Take it online.
Can an essential discussion happen in your AMS social community or on social media? Or even an E-mail chain? If you can, do it. That way members can participate at their convenience. Some cautions here, though: make sure members are engaged in whatever online platform you’re using, and keep in mind that there can sometimes be a gap in communication due to lack of tone and body language in online communication.
Cover meal times.
Free food is tough to turn down, and even saying something as simple as “let’s meet for coffee!” can change attendance. If you can afford it, try to offer at least a little something at the more important meetings. Stay away from dinner, though. While that may work sometimes, dinner is pretty well established as family time and you can’t encroach on that!
Is child care a big reason why your members can’t attend meetings? Maybe it would be worth it to find a sitter or volunteer and hold meetings at a place with a playground, like a community center or local church. Find out why it’s difficult for members to attend your meetings. If it’s a problem with a simple solution, see if you can help!
Celebrate the fruits of your labor.
Rewards and recognition are huge. Make sure you acknowledge individuals and thank them for their participation. Even something as simple as a printed certificate can relay the message of appreciation and understanding of the hard work and time commitment. Don’t go over the top, though. It may seem disingenuous if you reward for things that could be considered trivial.
Make it fun!
Can you be productive and play mini golf? Maybe you can! There are meeting spaces all over, and some are cooler than others. Say you use a hotel meeting room. Would the hotel be cool with you spending some time poolside before or after the meeting? Little incentives or perks can make a huge difference in the general tone and feel of a meeting request. Make your meetings something to look forward to!
Meetings are unavoidable. But they don’t have to be bad! Find a magic combination that works for your association. It might take a little trial and error, but your members will thank you and it will pay off and you will reap the benefits of an active, engaged membership.
Need help planning a bigger event?