Volunteer Meeting Agenda with Brent Collingwood

Bad volunteer meetings can really slow an organization down. But what can you do about it?

In episode #049 of the Meeting Leadership Pocast you’ll get some immediate answers to this question because you’ll be learning from guest Consulting Expert, Brent Collingwood. 

In this episode you’ll find out how to build a productive volunteer meeting agenda that:

Doesn’t waste time on items that aren’t important
Helps you to avoid information regurgitation
Puts new business first and makes people accountable for being prepared and more

And once you learn how to structure an agenda in this way, then you’re meetings will be more effective and your volunteers will be highly engaged!

Brent Collingwood

Brent Collingwood - Meeting Leadership Podcast - Effective Meetings

Brent Collingwood has been assisting leaders in the non-profit sector for over 10 years through strategic planning, Board governance education, and maximizing their volunteer recruitment and retention strategies. 

Brent is a Certified Facilitative Leader and holds an M.Ed. degree in Leadership and Change. Brent has worked with professional associations, faith based organizations, family and community support services and volunteer action committees. Brent has been Board Chair of multiple organizations and has served in many capacities as an active Rotarian.

You can get in touch with Brent Collingwood at – http://collingwoodconsulting.com

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Click Here To Read The Show Transcript


00:00 – Show Opening

 Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

00:27 – Start Here – Podcast content starts here!

 Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard. I just want to say thanks for taking time out of your busy day to come here and find maybe a tip, a trick, something that you can take out, put into your leadership skills tool bag. So you’ll have it later to take action to make the situation even better. Today’s episode is going to be especially valuable if you are a volunteer who serves on a volunteer board. Because today’s episode is titled Why You Need To Blow Up Your Volunteer Meeting Agenda. I think we can all see where this is headed. Bad volunteer board meetings are brutal for recruiting. We are losing volunteers left, right, and center because they get there, they show up to the meetings and they’re not really very productive. So people simply, they quit sort of in a big way, or quietly. They kind of slip away and we lose their capacity in that situation. To help us get a fresh perspective on this issue, we’re bringing in an expert. His name is Brent Collingwood. Now you might’ve heard him on the Meeting Leadership Podcast in Episode 28. And today he’s going to bring back the same value from his nonprofit volunteer consulting perspective. I won’t keep you waiting any longer. Here’s the interview with Brent Collingwood.

01:41 – Welcome back, Brent Collingwood!

Gordon Sheppard: Brent Collingwood, welcome back to the show.

Brent C.: Thanks, Gordon. Thanks for having me back.

Gordon Sheppard:    For folks who are lucky enough, especially folks that are trying to really invigorate their volunteer ideas, Brent was on the show on Episode 28. And we’ll make sure that folks have a link to the show notes there, where he was talking about how to actually get volunteers in a more effective way than so many people are going about it. Now today we’ve brought Brent back on the show to talk about another really important issue. But before we do that, Brent, take a moment to introduce yourself.

Brent C.: Hi, everybody. I’ve been involved in governance for probably over a decade working in the University of Alberta with their executive education and running the Directors Education Program. So I’ve been both onboard serving as chair, but also working in management side as an executive director. So I bring a pretty good understanding of the challenges that all organizations face regardless.

Gordon Sheppard: Brent, just for a second, in all that experience, have you been to a few meetings?

Brent C.: I certainly have.

02:41 – Why you should blow up your meeting agenda

Gordon Sheppard:    What can you say about our topic today, which is called Why You Need To Blow Up Your Volunteer Meeting Agenda?

Brent C.: Here’s the thing I see most often happen. We recruit a great volunteer. They bring a great level of enthusiasm and then they sit down at one of our meetings. And meeting tends to go in circles with not a lot of focus, a lot of tangent teal happening. The person with the loudest voice gets the most attention.  And often, not necessarily directly, but indirectly, people start voting with their feet. And they start stepping away or finding reasons why they can’t come to the meeting. So we’ve recruited them, we’ve got them excited, and then we killed that enthusiasm because we’re not focused and succinct in our meetings.

03:24 – How to take control of your meeting agenda

Gordon Sheppard: How can you take control of the agenda to improve this?

Brent C.: Here’s one thing that often happens in meetings. We tend to focus a lot on what’s already happened as opposed to what we want to be doing. If you think about it, answer this question, we should be investigating and looking at what we’re doing, but what we should be doing. And what most board or committee agenda start with is committee reports. Well, if we packaged our information well and the board or the committee has that package, they should have read all that. So we don’t need to spend time regurgitating information that we already have available to us. What we should be doing is put our new business at the front of the agenda that focuses on forward thinking, strategic planning and direction that we want to take in the future.

04:10 – About Robert’s Rules

Gordon Sheppard: Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air? I always say, “Bless Robert’s rules.” But this gift of Robert’s rules that’s killing us in meetings and putting again really the back end at the front and this kind of thing is really a lot of what’s slowing us down.

Brent C.:  Absolutely. I love the phrase, “Who is this Robert guy, and why are we following his rules?” I think that people need to have structure, no doubt about that. But I don’t think you need to get hung up on the nuances of what Robert’s rules is really trying to create. And that was just simply structured so that the meetings could flow and information could be recorded properly.

04:44 – Should I stray from Robert’s Rules?

Gordon Sheppard: I hear that you’re giving people permission to stray from Robert’s rules. Is that correct?

Brent C.:  I agree with that. I also had one lady tell me that her name was Roberta, and she was forming Roberta’s rules. And there was no Robert’s rules. I quite liked that. So that the idea here is, you still need to have your structure. You still need to have an agenda. I’m not suggesting you don’t have an agenda. But what I’m suggesting is time and energy is spent on forward thinking initiatives and strategies. And if there’s time left at the end of the meeting, you can review the committee reports. But don’t eat up all of your time going through the reports. Then you’re pressed in the last 10 to 15 minutes of the agenda, and the time that the meeting is supposed to be held by trying to tackle the more important issues. And people also don’t like when meetings roll 15 20, 30 minutes past their scheduled end time. We really need to respect people’s time.

05:35 – Avoid the velodrome syndrome

Gordon Sheppard: Well, and this is a great way to help any leader of a nonprofit meeting to tune up their agendas. Get the things that are going to invigorate people at the front end. And then make sure that the things that they were supposed to take care of beforehand were actually already taken care of. So you don’t burn people’s good volunteer energy.

Brent C.: You don’t burn them out. And you don’t put the dreaded tabled items back so that they keep coming back to the committee table or the board table over and over again and no resolution ever happens. I refer to as the velodrome syndrome. We’re going in laps and going over. So let’s get off the velodrome track and let’s take things forward.

06:12 – Get in touch with Brent Collingwood – https://www.collingwoodconsulting.com 

Gordon Sheppard: If people get one gift from this episode and they can avoid that tabled item thing alone, it’ll be really good listening for them. Brent, thank you so much for being on the show. If someone needs to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

Brent C.: Great. Go to collingwoodconsulting.com. I give workshops and speeches on these topics. And we’d be happy to help anybody who’s looking for a little bit of assistance.

Gordon Sheppard: So good to have you on. Thanks again.

Brent C.: Thank you very much, Gord.

06:38 – More from Brent in the Meeting Leadership Podcast – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/28 

Gordon Sheppard: Well, I have to say that that interview with Brent Collingwood really hits home. I have been a volunteer on a board where a lot of time was being wasted. And I know that going forward all of us just need to stop talking about things that don’t count in our volunteer meetings, or we’re going to lose our best volunteers. And like I mentioned at the top of the show, Brett was also a guest expert on Episode 28 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. It was called Volunteer Recruitment Strategies That Work. If you’d like to listen to it, you can just go to meetingleadershipinc.com/28.

07:13 – Meeting Leadership Academy – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/academy 

I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. If you want to grow your volunteer leadership abilities, then check out the great live and online training options by visiting meetingleadershipinc.com/academy. And as always, thanks for spending some of your valuable time here today. We’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

07:37 – Podcast Outro

Thanks for listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast. Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. And don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow, right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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