Last week I wrote a blog on minute taking during meetings. It provided quite popular so I thought I’d write a little something on working with Committees in general. The minutes are the end product of a meeting but how do we ensure the meeting itself is well organised, productive and attended by the right people? I’ve worked with quite a few Boards and Committees over the years and have organised some worthwhile meetings and also some useless time-wasting meetings, so I understand the balance needs to be right and steps have to be followed to ensure the meeting is a success. Here are my tips on effective Committee meeting management.
Effective Committee meeting management
The saying goes that there are three requirements to make up an effective Committee – the right task, the right people and the proper process. The responsibilities must be clearly defined, the people have to be engaged and can complete the tasks given to them, and finally, the correct procedures must be in place to ensure the tasks are completed efficiently. In most cases, assistants will not be in a position to influence the tasks given to a Committee or the members that make up the group, but they will have a considerable influence over the process. Here are the steps we will be involved in and some advice on how we can make this part of the process more efficient.
The meeting space
Committee meetings tend to be long drawn out affairs and can go on all day, so the attendees need to be comfortable. If they are squeezed into a room with uncomfortable chairs and no natural daylight they are probably not going to be as productive as they would be if they have plenty of space, are comfortable and can move around freely. If you have overheard members of the Committee complaining about certain aspects of the room arrangement suggest to your manager that you change the location or at the very least introduce more breaks so that they are not in continual discomfort.
The Committee chair will generally finalise the meeting’s agenda, but you can certainly help by drafting the initial version. Every agenda should have the following details:
- The name of the Committee meeting
- The date, time and venue
- The members that are attending the meeting
- The names of those that have sent apologies
- The name of the person taking the minutes
Look through the previous set of minutes and add items to the agenda that have been carried over to this meeting. Also if there have been any relevant work or news within the company that needs to be discussed by this Committee and is part of their overall objective this should be added to the agenda. The agenda should also have regular items for discussion such as financials, operational activity, communications etc. Ensure the agenda and any supporting papers are sent out to the Committee members at least a week before the meeting.
The timing of meetings
Planning meetings well in advance will help the members of the Committee attend on a regular basis (or at least they will have less of an excuse to send apologies). The meetings should be scheduled and in their calendars ideally for the entire year and resources required for the meeting such as conference calling details or presentation material should all be arranged in advance of the meeting date.
During the meeting
If you do write the minutes at Committee meetings, refer back to my previous blog for handy hints and tips. It can be difficult to actively engage in the meeting if you are writing the minutes but at the same time if any questions arise regarding the organisation of the meeting then do give your opinion. As I said these meetings can take up a good few hours and can at times be quite tedious but do maintain your concentration and stay focussed (or at least look like you are!)
Ensure the minutes are sent out to the Committee members as soon as possible and make them aware of any action points they have to complete and the date of the next meeting. Keep in touch with the Committee members during the interval between meetings, especially if they do not work directly with you. This will show you are actively engaged in the organisation of the Committee and that you appreciate the input they have and the decisions they have to make.
Are there any other tips you have when it comes to working with Committees? Do you enjoy that part of your role or dread it?
Use our template for all of your meetings in the future. Using this format will make your minute taking much easier.