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Meetings That Are Over An Hour Long

Meetings that are over an hour long are almost certain to end with frustration and anger. The purpose of a meeting is not to process. The purpose of a meeting is to make a decision. Meetings that last for an hour or more happen because people are invited to affirm or receive an outcome already decided or the organizer truly does not care about wasting their time or everyone else’s.
Most meetings use the following formula…

1. Organizer has scheduled a meeting because they’re expected to host a meeting.
2. Organizer picks a moderate challenge or problem to address.
3. People show up pondering a thousand possible discussion points that could unfold.
4. Organizer presents a question or challenge and asks people to think and discuss.

Two to no more than three people are genuinely interested in the topic. The rest of the group is participating or sticking around to respect the leader, the team, or to keep from feeling as though the moment were a loss. The meeting will last as long as the organizer permits regardless of the fact that there will be nothing to decide and few tangible things to act on. What a complete waste of leadership energy, time, and potential. Real leaders will not stick around for this kind of organization.

Try this instead.

1. Familiarize yourself with reasons to get people together; fun, training, meet-ups, get together, laser tag, paper toss tournament, announcements etc.
2. Do not hold meetings unless you need to make a decision. Hint: You do not need to make 12 major decisions a year.
3. Do your homework and list on a fact sheet the circumstances surrounding the need for the decision, the facts about the choices, and the concerns, pro, and cons surrounding the possible outcomes.
4. Email that fact sheet to your leaders with the decision to be made, when you will meet, and where you will meet.
5. Gather for the meeting and set the time limit. (This is the advertised ending of the meeting.)
6. Table your recommendation for the decision.
7. Ask your leaders to table their recommendations for the decision.
8. Discuss recommendations for clarity only.
9. Move with the consensus. *
10. Get with individuals and groups afterward to delegate or share duties implied from the decision.

*If you do not want the consensus or are afraid the consensus will oppose your decision as organizer or leader do not ask for it. This is called an announcement. An announcement is a gathering of people watching someone talk about a decision they’ve already made. This is a meeting impostor.

This meeting should not last more than 40 minutes. (Try to end ten minutes before you said you would end the meeting.)  People know what they are getting into, have come prepared, and leave with a healthy process and purpose. Repeat this as necessary so that you can have fun with your team and enjoy life.

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Chad Swanzy has served in youth ministry for 15 years and currently works as the student ministry director at Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas. Learn more from Chad and ask him your questions at ChadSwanzy.com.