1 Meetings: good and bad
Meetings are not just part of organisational life – they also take place in less formal settings such as schools, village halls, pubs and cafés. The focus this week is primarily on meetings that voluntary organisations engage in and which may involve staff, volunteers, carers and service users, as well as other agencies. Even if you are not directly involved with a voluntary organisation, you can probably draw on your experience of attending other types of meeting.
In the first activity for this week we’d like you to recall some of the meetings you’ve attended and to think about why some meetings work and others don’t.
Activity 1 Thinking about meetings
- Think about a meeting that you have been involved in that went really well. List the reasons why you think it worked so well.
- Think about a meeting that you have been involved in that did not work well. List the reasons why you think it worked poorly.
This is what one volunteer had to say about meetings they have attended.
When meetings have gone well, some of the reasons are:
- the meeting had a clear purpose
- people were prepared for the meeting
- the agenda was not too long
- the chair made sure we kept to the main issues, provided useful summaries of our progress and made sure people kept to the point
- people trusted and respected each other’s opinions.
Conversely, some of the reasons why meetings have not gone so well are:
- very long agendas
- the chair allowed some individuals to dominate or not keep to the point, and did not keep to time
- people were poorly prepared for the meeting; for example, perhaps not having papers in advance or not having read them
- the meeting went on too long without a break.
You may have thought of some other reasons why meetings are successful or not.
A successful meeting is often about good planning, being prepared for the meeting and ensuring that the meeting is handled well. For the rest of this week you will examine these issues in more detail.