For the Love of Meetings Lions Share What Makes Their Gatherings Great Shari Walker is proud to be the newest member of the Churchville Lions in Maryland. Walker had enjoyed tagging along to projects and events with her husband, John, after they both retired a few years ago. “The club got to feel like family to me. Knowing that I was working with such good people I figured, why not join too?” One of the reasons that swayed her to join might surprise some Lions: she loved the meetings. “Everyone in our club has input. We’re all encouraged to share ideas, and everyone has a vote. And we have fun!” she says. For many Lions, meetings are indeed a reason to join or stick around. Meetings provide a needed time for clubs to make decisions, solve problems and enjoy fellowship. But former members cite unproductive, uninteresting and overly formal meetings as the reasons they left Lions. Do your club’s meetings need an overhaul, or maybe a tweak here or there, to keep members coming back? Content Lions point out a few key “rules” to making meetings top notch. Obtain the Floor As Walker mentioned, every Lion wants to be an active participant in meetings. Rathdrum Lion Patti Patterson admires her club’s attention to inclusion. “We ask for ideas and insight from all members. We all lend our creativity, skills and time,” says Patterson of her Idaho club. The University of Texas at Austin Lions also know that members who aren’t heard will take their talents and time elsewhere. That’s not always easy with a membership of 108. “When members have ideas or complaints, we listen and try to incorporate their feedback. This encouragement to speak up is one of the reasons our club is so successful,” says Vice President Jennifer Chavarria. Come to Order Lions want their meetings to be guided with purpose and organized agendas. “A strong leader is essential for keeping things on course,” says Walker. The North Pole Lions in Alaska pride themselves on efficient meetings that keep to one hour, Lion Dodie Rixie explains. “Having an agenda, upcoming events calendar and minutes at every meeting help keep our meetings efficient and harmonious.” The North Pole Lions also have an organized monthly meeting calendar. “Our first meeting of the month is business, the second is a service work party and the third is program/training night,” says Rixie. Take a Recess While there’s always much work to be done, Lions usually like to lighten the load with a little levity. “There’s joking and good-natured ribbing at our gatherings. We want everyone to enjoy coming to meetings,” says Patterson. The University of Texas Lions go a step further with their sizeable membership by kicking off meetings with a brief icebreaker game. “It’s a great way to facilitate a sense of community. Having fun is a gateway for both grabbing a hold of everyone’s attention at the start of a meeting and encouraging members to interact in an informal way,” explains Chavarria. The Rathdrum Lions are pros at infusing fun while efficiently accomplishing the tasks at hand. “We have a relaxed, family atmosphere but at the same time we can be serious and professional. We try to create a balance of both,” says Patterson. Ultimately, meetings should be times when all voices are heard in a welcoming atmosphere and perhaps, most importantly, should feel like time well-spent. Chavarria stresses, “My advice can be summed up in three words: make meetings worthwhile. Don’t make members come out to meetings unless they can walk away with some value.” Learn more ways to improve meetings in the “Managing Meetings” online course at the Lions Learning Center at www.lionsclubs.org. Digital LION Find additional ideas to enhance meetings in LCI’s “Member Satisfaction Guide” at www.lionmagazine.org.
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