Look at your meeting from the volunteer’s point of view.
We’ve all been to meetings which seem to ramble all over the place and (apparently) get nowhere. Don’t let your volunteer committee members think that about your meetings. They’ve provided you with a piece of their precious time and a willingness to pitch in to help. You owe them a productive meeting.
Of course, you have an agenda and certain updates to report. But start your meeting with a vision of what you hope to have accomplished by the end of the meeting.
“Let’s finalize the goals for each sector for the upcoming campaign.”
“I hope we can agree on three main points, one of which will be the focus of the annual giving letter.”
“Today we need to brainstorm and then assign who will contact prospects for next year’s Gala Committee.”
With a goal clearly in mind, it’s easy to rein in a wandering conversation.
Your committee members are clear about the purpose of the meeting and what each needs to do to accomplish that purpose. When the meeting purpose has been accomplished, the members can leave with a feeling of having gotten something worthwhile done.
They can say to themselves: “It was a rush to get here today, but at least I’ve contributed my ideas to the discussion, moved the project forward, and helped XYZ move toward our mission. I look forward to coming again. I can give an hour and help make a difference. I feel good about what we are doing at XYZ.”
When a volunteer contributes time, energy, and influence (and if you hope to keep them coming), it’s the least you can do.