I recently got a call from volunteer board of directors that had hired me as a humorous speaker for a conference of municipal government employees. The caller was looking for hints on how to run a respectful board meeting. She had one coming up and she anticipated some really heated discussions and impending conflict.
I have been on many volunteer boards and the best solution I had for conflict (and the never ending meetings that result) is to anticipate the conflict in advance and to be prepared.
Here are a few other tips:
- Go in with a take charge attitude. Strong leadership and direction will be needed to manage personalities.
- Have a clear agenda with time restrictions -printed- and stick to it. If someone commands the conversation and you run over on an item tell them for the sake of time you need to table the discussion.
- Do some prep work before the meeting. Call participants to get a feel for the amount of time they will need. Get a feel for the conflict that may arise and work to get commitment from potentially difficult people to hear others out and not monopolize the board's time. Remind them that the floor is not available to assign blame or point fingers, but to get collaboration and commitment to shared goals.
- Have allies at the table, those who are willing and committed to keeping things on track for the good of the group. I do this by calling and negotiating with people before the board meeting.
A conversation like.... Marilyn your contribution to this meeting is important to us. I know you have a lot to say and I know I can count on you to (i.e... Support this...)
- I also like to start board meetings with a touch of levity to help decrease tension. Start by acknowledging everyone and (time permitting) give everyone a chance to share some good news. It disarms board members and creates positive rapport.
When i showed up to be a speaker for the municipal government employees conference I found out the board meeting was very well run and a lot was accomplished. I presented on Levity for Municipal Employees, and they loved the opportunity to laugh.
Find out why you need a Humorous speaker for your municipal government Employee Conference, here.
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