The most significant task I was unprepared for when stepping into administration was leading meetings. I had never honestly run one and never given much thought to what a good meeting consisted of. Not only this, but realizing my inadequacy led to fear and disdain for them.
Nevertheless, I must lead them, so I began preparing. I found after a while that I was spending all of my time in meeting preparation thinking about the meat of the meeting, i.e., the agenda. I was paying little to no time on the greeting and the goodbyes, as Bill Hybels calls it.
My greetings usually begin with an “Alright, let’s get going for time sake” or “Shall we begin?” Jumping right into the agenda, I have given my greeting the excitement of a corn-dog school lunch announcement. You may not think it possible, but my goodbyes are worse. The meeting ends when I usually have another appointment, and the exit strategy usually goes like “good discussion, thanks for your time, I must be going to my next meeting.” When slowing down and writing these out, it is easy to understand that both the intro and outro of my meetings need some punchiness.
Hybels details an encounter he had with a fellow leader who challenged his greetings and goodbyes. This leader insisted that the most critical part of the meeting was just that, stating that a great greeting can convey to team members that they are more than a “cog in someone else’s wheel.” Moreover, an intentional goodbye has the ability to stick out as the last thing someone in the meeting will remember, making it vitally important.
Hybels provides us with two changes that he has implemented to change his meetings’ greeting and goodbye for the better.
1. Greeting – “I make it a habit to do a personal, enthusiastic, genuine, warm, highly relational, look-you-in-the-eye greeting to every single person sitting around the table before I even think about starting the meeting.”
2. Goodbye – “So when I adjourn the meeting, I go to the doorway as soon as I can to give a warm thank-you to every member as they leave. No matter how intense the meeting was, they are given direct assurance that I was grateful for their contribution.”
I believe these two small changes to running a meeting can significantly alter the feeling of an often dreaded scheduled time. We should think intently on our greetings and goodbyes as we:
– Host parent/teacher conferences
– Meet with a student regarding a failing paper they received
– Host weekly faculty meetings
– Provide tours with prospective parents
Small changes can have substantial effects within meetings. Be intentional about your greetings and goodbyes, and hopefully, it will instill a warmth to your time with your most important members.