At least they had cookies

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Last night, I went to a homeowners meeting for our community, to hear about proposed changes to parking rules.

The head of the committee called the meeting to order, read the current rules, brought us up to date, and asked for feedback. Many shared their opinions and grievances. A few lawyers in the crowd thought the existing rule was ambiguous. (It was).

Nothing much was accomplished, but at least they had cookies.

I’m not going to say “most meetings are a waste of time and all of this could have been done digitally”. That may be true but there are times when it’s good to meet with fellow stakeholders in person.

And this was one of them. It was good to hear what my neighbors thought and put faces with names.

But I do have a few thoughts about how the meeting might have been improved.

First, tell folks the agenda, so they know what to expect and can follow along. You want them to understand the big picture before you dive into the minutia, lest they get lost (and doze off).

And, keep things moving.

Let people make their point, thank them, and move on. If you let people ramble, they will. (They did.)

Second, take notes. And let everyone see you do it.

Our speaker had dealt with the parking rules over the last several years and knew them backwards and forwards. He appropriately expressed interest when people offered new ideas or shared their problems, and said he would look into them.

But he didn’t write anything down.

So, would he look into it? Remember it? Was he being honest?

In any meeting, whether group or one-on-one, let people see you take notes. It shows them you heard what they said and care about it (or them).

Finally, tell people what happens next.

Don’t make them guess. Don’t make them ask. Spell it out.

I left our meeting not quite sure what would happen next, or what to do if I wanted to follow up.

Tell them what you’re going to do and/or what you want them to do.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Don’t forget the cookies.

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