How to Keep Your Association Meetings on Track

If leaders want members to attend association meetings, the key is to run them efficiently. Time is precious. With officiating, family and work commitments, association members can’t spend endless hours on association business and training. Keep the meetings on track and you’re more likely to fill the seats.

Step 1 — Start on time. Instruct members to find their seats and begin to get them settled a few minutes before the scheduled start time. Regardless of who isn’t there, start the meeting on time. If you start a little bit late for those who are tardy, you’re likely going to alienate everyone else.

Step 2 — Make an agenda and stick to it. Plan how long certain agenda items will take, put that time amount in the agenda and stick to it. Leaving bullet-point topics with no endgame is fine if your association members have unlimited time, but that is likely not the case. Sticking to the agenda requires a strong meeting facilitator. If you’re the president but that’s not your strong suit, it’s OK if the vice president runs the meetings.

Step 3 — Hold off presentation questions to the end. Make it clear in the beginning of a presentation that questions are welcomed, but for time purposes, they should be held for the end of the speech. Often questions come up that will be answered later in the presentation, so that eliminates the duplication of material. You’ll still get some questions during the presentation, and that’s fine. Presenters should be able to handle those quickly or ask the member to remember his or her question and ask it after the presentation wraps up.

Step 4 — Keep discussion on point. For some presentations, discussion is welcomed throughout, and that’s great, if the discussion relates to the topic. Don’t let officials bring in other random topics. If anything goes, expect to be there all night, and expect some unhappy members.

Step 5 — Communicate time limits to your guest speakers. There are some great officiating speakers out there and there are some long-winded officiating speakers as well. Don’t complain that the speech goes an hour or two hours or more if you haven’t told the speaker that he or she has a time limit. Sometimes even when you’re clear about the time available, you’ll get a speaker who stretches the limits. It’s a good idea to let your speakers know that you will signal to them when they have 10 minutes left or something close to that. It’s a good reminder for those who need it.