Campaign Corner: How can we run our committee meetings better?

The Campaign Corner series looks to give three tips about commonly asked campaign issues. Do get in touch if you have any questions you would like to suggest.

Today’s Campaign Corner question: Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Why yes, I’ve just come out of a local party campaign team meeting. Many hours, no decisions. Please help!

Ah, the old favourite about how to run meetings well. It would be easy to write a book about that… but here are three quick tips to get you going:

1. Good chairing is an important skill that not everyone has: there is a huge difference between a meeting that is chaired well and one that is chaired badly. Not everyone has it in them to be a good chair. Particularly for campaign teams, don’t assume that ‘the most important person’ or ‘the person in charge’ should chair. Often picking someone to chair specifically for their chairing skills works much better.

2. Have someone record the decisions as you go: you need a record of decisions anyway, but having someone note them as you go is a great way to ensure a decision is actually reached on each point. The quiet voice from the corner asking, “So what would you like me to record as being decided?” has more than once got a meeting I’ve been in back on track.

3. Distribute action points promptly: decisions need executing and waiting until just before the next meeting to distribute the action points usually means you’ve waited until after things should have been done. With email it is easy to distribute action points promptly after a meeting and then again as a reminder just before the next one.

Got any other tips? Please do share them in the comment thread below.

Want to know more about local campaigning? Campaigning In Your Community by myself and Shaun Roberts should be right up your street. It’s available for only £4 from ALDC and you can read an extract for free here.

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

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3 Comments

  • Sadie Smith 19th Mar '12 - 6:38pm

    Don’t leave all the contacting and notification to the Chair.

  • In no particular order:

    1) Always start on time, if you are quorate. Wait for no-one.
    2) Always deal with the big issues first
    3) Deal with boring things like “apologies for absence”, last. (Minutes get distributed in advance, and are automatically approved unless someone has objected, in writing, in advance).
    4) Put timings on items, and stick to them (with an incentive, like “go to pub” as the last item). No meeting should take more than 1 hour – it is hard to concentrate for longer.
    5) Never allow reports to be read, instead someone **else** can summarise them (“North Ward, South Ward and East Ward have their focus out, West work needs some help”)
    6) Anyone wanting a decision must circulate a note saying what they want the meeting to decide, and why. It must not exceed 300 words, and must be sent out 2 days in advance.
    7) If you are running over time by more than a couple of minutes, take the next item standing up, and continue until you are back on track.
    8) If the minute taker has a computer, get them to type them up on the fly, and email them out as the meeting closes.

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