Strengthening Nonprofit Governance & Management
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What Would Nonprofit Network Do?

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  • Monday, April 23, 2018 10:04 AM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)

    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Mediocre performers are busy with the best intentions, but the wrong conversations. To separate your organization from the crowd of mediocre performers you must make the best decisions possible. Great decisions only occur in a culture that creates space and time for crucial conversations, and these conversations cannot take place in “unsafe” environments. A room doesn’t have to hostile to be unsafe. In fact, most unsafe conversations are not hostile--they're often the result of an error of omission. Those in the “room” or meeting have not intentionally created and maintained an environment that nurtures free exchange of genuine opinions.

    Two things need to be present in order for a conversation to be safe, and if you can establish these elements, then you've created the space for those conversations that will take your board from mediocrity to excellence:  1) Mutual Purpose and 2) Mutual Respect.

    Mutual purpose is all about being clear about the intent of the conversation. We often dive headfirst into meetings without pausing at the very beginning to clarify the purpose of what we hope to accomplish with the discussion. How many conversations have you been in where you're asking, "what is the point?" 

    People who are unclear about the conversation's purpose (is it to inform, decide, criticize, change, congratulate?) will very often sit on the sidelines and may even check out entirely. Being intentional about speaking the purpose of the conversation puts all of the parties, whether that's 2 people or 29 people, on the same page. The more people in the room, the more  divergent the focus will be when the purpose is left to the audience to figure out.

    Mutual respect involves having a trusting environment. Leaders probably don’t verbalize enough the respect they already have for their staff. Likewise, the front line staff don’t provide feedback on the respect they hold for their leaders. Creating an environment where mutual respect can be openly affirmed goes a long way to assuring all parties. If the mutual respect is lacking, some serious work needs to be done. Its hard work (see mention of crucial conversations above). However take note that this trusting environment leading to mutual respect is possible to build.

    Ask yourself these two questions to get this process underway : Am I viewed as a person of integrity? Am I viewed as a person that is highly competent in my role?

    Making it safe

    We’ve heard it before. “I didn’t feel safe saying that” or “I would have brought that up with him, but the room wasn’t safe”. Is being “safe” a cop out for not having the courage to speak up? Is it some undefinable excuse to cast the blame for poor communication onto others?

    No. It’s actually a real thing. And it’s your job to make it happen.

    Leaders of meetings will find that when these elements are present, participation is increased and the quality of conversation is enriched. While the meeting leader is not solely responsible for these two elements being present, in their position of authority they can be a significant influence as well as motivator the other participants to keep the room safe. A key leadership practice is to model the way. Teams that operate in safe environments are much more impactful than those who spend their time navigating landmines.

    I've written previously about the required skills to conduct crucial conversations. Mastering them can be a real game changer for organizations that have not been hitting the marks they desire. Leaders who master the skill of facilitating these hard conversations will see a difference in the performance of their board and the organization. I guarantee it.

    I have a lot of respect for the work you are doing in your community. If you want to have a conversation about getting better at creating a safe room, give me a call. 

    If you want some hands-on training, consider attending Accelerating Board Performance: Better Conversations, Discussions, and Decisions on June 20th. 

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements.  Each week you'll get a link to the most recent blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Tuesday, April 10, 2018 12:41 PM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)

     Carrie Heider Grant

     Program Coordinator

    April 10th is Equal Pay Day, which symbolizes how far into the year (on average) a woman has to work to be paid the same amount as a male counterpart in the prior year.

    Imagine what you could do with 20% more income than you are currently paid. It’s not hard for me to answer: That money would go to student loans, health-care, long-term savings, and charitable contributions. And of course I'd seek out some lesser services like doggy day-carethe luxury of sparing my home the daily trauma of these two anxious doggos would be worth every penny. 


    Good, anxious doggos.

    My point is that 20% is a huge amount of money. 

    And that gap is even wider when you break it down by race: Black women are paid 38% less than white men, while Latinas are paid 46% less. 


    Those numbers are staggering.

    Meanwhile, in the nonprofit sector, we’re working on making sure the elderly have safe housing, that children are fed, that rivers are clean, and so much more—how can we possibly take on another issue with no apparent solution? 

    I’ve got good news and bad news.

    Bad news: this is already a nonprofit issue. Michigan Nonprofit Association’s 2017-2018 Compensation and Benefit Report illustrates the average salary for a full-time executive director of a Michigan nonprofit—

    Men: $123,648

    Women: $88,727

    That’s a whopping 28% average decrease in pay for Michigan women!

    Feeling a little less smitten with the mitten state? 

    Here’s the good news: the nonprofit sector is a powerful force that drives the nation’s economy. In Michigan alone, nonprofits are responsible for employing 11% of the working population (Source: MNA). We have the potential to impact our communities in meaningful, lasting ways.

    Think the gender pay gap doesn’t exist at your organization? Back that up with data by conducting an audit on your hiring and promotion practices. Compare compensation, qualifications/experience, and gender. That audit is the first step for anyone who genuinely seeks to achieve their nonprofit mission—we cannot address poverty and its effects if we are actively contributing to poverty by sustaining inequitable wage practices.

    Let’s roll up our sleeves, and seek solutions with humility—we all have to do better if we want our communities to be better.

    Here are some great resources if you’re looking for more information and data:

    Equal Pay Counts: What Companies Can Do

    How Managers Can Support Women at Work

    The gender pay gap is a sleeper threat to nonprofit effectiveness and sustainability

    Want to talk about where to start?

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements.  Each week you'll get a link to the most recent blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Monday, March 26, 2018 12:27 PM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Did you know that humans are hard-wired to relate to stories? Neuroscientists tell us that the brains of people listening to well-told stories fire on the same neuralpath as if they were experiencing the circumstance themselves. Likewise, if you and I are hearing the same story, our brains will fire in similar areas. There is quite a bit of science in people connecting with one another. Add to this that humankind has been sitting around ancient fires or watering holes relating guidance and requests verbally as stories for eons. (Interesting sources here and here.)

    Humans like stories.

    Stories have been ways to educate, inspire, and motivate for ages and today’s technological advances haven’t changed that one bit. In fact, we can now share stories so much faster with technology that our storytelling skills are needed more now than ever before. The great news is that storytelling is a skill that can be learned.

    I can think of many reasons a nonprofit organization would want to enhance its storytelling skills. A couple off the top of my head include:

    • Storytelling is about persuasion. Isn’t persuasion our reason for being? We want to persuade people to choose our cause. We want to persuade them that we are a priority for the use of their funds. We want to persuade them to invest their precious time being engaged with us.
    • Storytelling reinforces your data. Data about your cause can make your point and demonstrate you know what you are doing. Communicating that data in a story can assist you in connecting with the listener in ways that dumping raw facts on them just won’t
    • Storytelling fights burnout. A good story can be a shot in the arm to reinvigorate your staff, board or even donors that may be experiencing some fatigue in the cause. It’s another way of reminding us “why” we do this.
    • Stories are repeatable. This simple fact makes them gold to a nonprofit organization. A repeatable story about your cause, your successes, your needs or your vision for the community is the tool to engage those people you haven’t met yet.

    In our nonprofit world there are at least five different categories of stories every organization would benefit from adding to their pool of stories. Give some consideration to stories you may have about:

    1. Founding. How your organization got its start…what motivated that effort?
    2. Focus. Stories can serve as a great way to get across exactly the cause you address
    3. Impact. Stories about how you make a difference
    4. People. It's about sharing real people experiences that real people have
    5. Strength. Stories can be a cool and very sociably acceptable way to toot your own horn on successes.

    Tips to become a better storyteller:

    • Keep it short. Long stories lose the listener
    • Keep it simple. Ultra-complex stories cause listener to mentally check out
    • Highlight people, not programs
    • Consider your audience. It’s YOUR story, but it won’t get heard if you misread your audience.
    • When you get to the end of the story, STOP. Continuing past the end, buries the point you wanted to make with the listener.
    • Practice your story telling by writing “mini-sagas.” These are stories with a character in pursuit of a goal in the face of an obstacle, written in exactly 50 words.

    Want to talk more about how you can use your story to be a stronger organization? 

    Check out the Leverage Your Story series. Over the course of three workshops, we'll explore Building the Case for Support, Telling Your Story, and Retention Power of the Thank You

    Come to one, two or all three sessions.  

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements.  Each week you'll get a link to the most recent blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Monday, March 19, 2018 11:15 AM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)

    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder


    Recently, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with leaders about self-care. Today, I'm specifically thinking about professional development.

    When I contemplate professional development, I immediately think of the saying largely attributed to our 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” 

    You will note his advice is deliberatebefore the work starts, he spends a significant amount of time preparing himself completely.  Two-thirds of the allotted time is spent developing a tool that will be ready for the task. 

    Prioritizing preparation does not have to cause you to miss your deadline. In fact, investing more than half of your allotted time to equip yourself can be a recipe for success.  

    From my perspective, this proverb is a resounding endorsement of professional development.  

    Which leads me to two questions: 

    1) Why are we jumping straight into the work? 

    I suspect our rush to start the work directly in front of us may be due to our addiction to urgency. Being compelled to put out all the “urgencies” (checklists, emails, social media, and unscheduled visitors) provides many of us with a sense of accomplishment. This is actually a physical reaction from your brain firing adrenaline and other feel-good chemicals. However, this comes at the cost of not addressing items that are most important. Self-care is made possible when we spend time working the “important” items instead of the most “urgent” ones that are right in front of us.

    2) Why are we swinging a tool that's not up to the task? 

    Regrettably, we often defer professional development to "when we get the time" or "when we get the money." Sound time management practices tell us that these things don't happen on their own. We have to deliberately make the time and budget the funding. Sharpening the ax is all about working smarter, not harder. If you're a board member, make sure you're protecting a line-item for professional development for everyone—that's staff, your executive director, and yourselves.  Seek out grants and funding that will cover the costs of professional development. This is soundly in your control. Own it. Take control and be intentional. Which, by the way, is the best approach for self-care. 

    What’s your ax? Is it a new hard skill? How about all the soft skills that are so important in our nonprofit sector? Becoming better at our profession accomplishes many things. It obviously impacts the quality of our outcomes, but also has a significant impact on our self-care.

    Work that falls within your skill set also is done more quickly (sooner diagnosis of issue, less trial-and-error) and is done under less stress (because of your increased confidence). Working within your skill set is also a major contributor to job satisfaction. So identify an area of your work that needs to be refined or built. If you add sound time management and increased proficiency at your work, you are well on your way to the work/life balance we crave.

    Be intentional.

    In response to the need for intentional and deliberate professional development, Nonprofit Network is offering something different to all new executive directors: 

    Nonprofit Network Executive Director Academy 

    The Academy is a 7-month cohort of 10 (or fewer) ED's who have been in their job for under 5 years.  The cohort will meet monthly for training sessions, and will apply the information in real-time between each session.

    If you're interested in a cohort for EDs who have been in the field for more than 5 years (or if you're a new ED but are not free for this season's cohort dates), let us know! We'll add you to the waitlist for the next relevant cohort!

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements.  Each week you'll get a link to the most recent blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Monday, March 12, 2018 1:10 PM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)

    Victoria Reese

    Capacity Builder

    When I think about Bridges Out of Poverty I am reminded of an insight from Shelly L. Francis's The Courage Way: Leading and Living with Integrity:

    “The inner work of leadership depends on the strongest muscle in the human body the heart.”  

    Bridges Out of Poverty allows leaders to connect head and heart to bring about viable institutional and community change.

    The Bridges Out of Poverty framework uses research on economic classes to provide concrete tools and strategies for a community to alleviate poverty. I truly believe that the solution to a community 's problem will be found in the community itself. After all, problem-solving is a core competency of most businesses and institutions. So those who serve people who live in deep poverty, or those whose employees live in deep poverty are natural stakeholders in this work. 

    Bridges uses a triple lens approach to address the dynamics that cause poverty from an individual to a systemic level:

    The Triple Lens of Bridges Out of Poverty:

    1. Individual 
    2. Institution/Organizational
    3. Community

    This structure helps you to thoroughly assess and process poverty as you seek to build solutions. Often times, we view poverty and other social ills only through the individual lens—we focus on what the unique choices and circumstances of an individual.

    But if we do not change our perspective, we miss a majority of the picture.  We must also consider the lens of the institution and the community. Looking at poverty through an individual lens does not provide the depth of understanding that comes from viewing it through all 3 lenses. 


    This framework offers powerful tools for change that can help to—

    • Can help organizations and companies with retention rates
    • Reduce turnover costs
    • Improve employee performance and productivity
    • Create a positive workplace environment
    • Reduce barriers to employment
    • Build resources
    • Empower individuals
    • Move individuals from poverty to self-sufficiency
    • Create sustainable communities

    This is some of the most important work that Nonprofit Network does.  I hope you'll consider joining us June 14th for a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop that is open to the community.

    Nonprofit Network is able to present Bridges Out of Poverty in several ways to meet your specific needs.  We can provide as little as a brief preview of why Bridges Out of Poverty matters to multi-day workshops encompassing key points, solutions, strategies, action steps, and a plan for institutional change.  If you’re tired of doing the same thing and expecting different results, give us a call.  We can help.

  • Wednesday, March 07, 2018 4:58 PM | Sharon Castle (Administrator)

    Sharon Castle

    Capacity Builder

    Storytelling is the "it" thing these days. Why is that?  Here's one explanation from the Moth Radio Hour:

    “Since 1999, we have been partnering with community organizations around the world to practice storytelling as an art form and a powerful tool of communication. Through workshops and performance opportunities, participants shape selected life experiences into well-crafted stories and share them with members of their communities and beyond. 

    We believe that by honoring the individual experience, we can:

    • Challenge dominant narratives
    • Inspire greater confidence in storytellers
    • Deepen connection in community
    • And spark empathy among listeners around the world.”

    As you see from the explanation taken from the Moth’s website – and if you haven’t had a chance to listen to some of their podcasts, I would highly recommend it – telling one’s story can have a huge impact. 

    As with individuals, for-profits and nonprofits are also developing their unique storiestheir vibeto motivate folks to buy their product, to support their cause in short, to invest in their vision.

    So where should you, as a leader of a nonprofit reliant on donors, begin to develop your organization’s story?  

    Start by creating your organization’s Case for Support or CFS.  The CFS should articulate in clear and compelling language your organization’s story and “make the case” for why a donor should continue to give, increase their giving, or why a prospective donor should begin giving to your organization. 

    Once you’ve gone through the difficult work of writing the CFS, your life will be much easier and you will be able to use its language when writing your annual appeal, thank you letters, creating verbiage for your fundraising efforts on your website or designing a special event invitation.  

    Simply put, the Case for Support is the genesis for all of your fundraising efforts.  It is the place where all fundraising should start. Even more importantly, it is a wonderful tool for board, staff and volunteers to use when soliciting support for your organization.

    Before you begin working on your organization’s CFS, think KISS; you know: keep it simple, stupid.

    In order to develop a strong CFS you will need general information like your organization’s mission and vision (if you have one) statements and strategic plan; financial information including budget(s) and financial statements; program information including statistics, expenses; and dreams (what we could accomplish if we had…)

    Be sure to gather all of that information, because you'll need it to effectively these critical parts of your story: 

    • Your organization’s history
    • The need your organization was designed to address
    • Impact and success to date
    • What you hope to achieve, by when
    • How much it will cost and how it will be funded
    • Why your organization should be the beneficiary of the donor’s gift.

    The final version of the CFS should be no more than 2-3 pages on the organization and no more than a page for each program or other activity supported by fundraising.  Furthermore, it should be light on text and include quotes and pictures to support written information.  

    Just as you began, end with KISS—and remember to be thorough and succinct.

    Want to learn more about how to use your organization's unique story as you pursue funding?

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements.  Each week you'll get a link to the most recent blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Monday, February 26, 2018 2:00 PM | Tom Williams (Administrator)

    Tom Wiliams

    Capacity Builder

    When it comes to mission achievement, I have yet to meet the individual that has the ability to pull it off entirely by themselves.

    In fact, one consistent observation I’ve made over all these years in the nonprofit world, is that mission is achieved only by teams. 


    Observation #2: Mission is achieved deeper and faster when a team is stronger and more passionate.

    Conversely, the teams that constantly rebuild, are not cohesive, and don’t rally around results struggle with delivering on that mission. Too often, organizations that struggle at mission opt to seek out new programs to deliver or revise what services they are providing, thinking they will come across a programmatic answer.  

    The inconsistency in staffing keeps the organization always in the beginning half of the learning curve. This is an exhausting place to exist.

    Research from GuideStar and Nonprofit HR tells us that nonprofit organizations have a staff turnover of about 19% annually. 

    That rate has a significant impact. 

    Some expenses of staff turnover are hard expenses, but the hidden costs are drastically impacting your organization. These costs can include:

    • Lower productivity now that you have a vacant position (which will continue until the replacement has come up to speed)
    • Overwork of the remaining staff to cover the vacancy
    • Lost knowledge and external relationships that are no longer with the organization
    • Interviewing costs (for you and others)
    • Training (or mentoring) costs for the replacement

    Some estimates have calculated the above costs at over 150% of that staff person’s salary. 

    And yet still, many of us just accept the turnover as our nonprofit reality. That acceptance is made easier by the fact that many of the true costs of staff turnover are hidden.  Hidden or not, the costs are still impacting you financially. This is a part of our world we actually can influence.  By striving to retain our people, we can build not only a higher performing crew, but also a vast savings of money.

    As organizational guru Jim Collins tells us, getting the right people “on the bus” (recruitment) is key to success.  And keeping them on our respective buses long enough to coalesce into a high functioning team (retention) is how we transition from a good team to a great team .  

    High functioning teams hold each other more accountable, have deeper commitment to the mission and focus on getting results.  This is a formula for more mission accomplishment.

    Imagine investing those resources—financials, mental capacity, more available time, increased productivity—elsewhere in your organization. Building the team for more mission and obtaining significant cost savings in the process.  Makes becoming an employer of choice sort of attractive doesn’t it?

    You cannot afford to to ignore it.

    Join us on March 15 as we dive into the world of HR and employee management and retention at a workshop facilitated by area HR professionals

    Managing and Retaining Our Biggest Asset: Our Employees.

  • Monday, February 26, 2018 8:40 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)

    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director

    As we honor President Washington this week, I'm reflecting on my recent experience of seeing Hamilton: An American Musical, in Chicago. There are four key lessons, as demonstrated by George Washington's character, that are especially important for nonprofit leaders to remember.

    Power should be shared. Washington voluntarily resigned as the U.S. President after serving two terms, to both of which he was unanimously elected. He sought to establish a precedence that giving up power makes governance stronger. His example teaches us that succession planning and term limits are important tools for growth and sustainability.

    Values and ethics matter. Before the age of sixteen, Washington studied 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior. This exercise is regarded as a formative influence in the development of his character and teaches us that our own character is something that we must intentionally shape and maintain.

    Flexibility is critical. During the Fight for American Independence, the British had more supplies and more soldiers, and all of those soldiers had more training than Washington's Continental Army. Keeping his army and his team in tact was critical to winning the ultimate war, and he retreated when he knew the battle was too expensive. Washington prevailed because he recognized the power of flexibility, teaching us how critical it is to be adaptive to circumstances and find creative solutions.

    Equity matters. In his will, George Washington freed his slaves and adamantly made provisions for his estate to continue providing care for them after they were freed. This made him the first and only slaveholder among the founding fathers to free his slaves. At the time of his death in 1799, more than half of Mount Vernon’s enslaved population was either too old or too young to work–signifying that he had kept families together in lieu of profit. These decisions were certainly not common in their time, and yet still he could have done more.  He seemed to know that slavery was incredibly unethical, but he continued to run an estate that depended on the institution. This problematic relationship teaches us the importance of pursuing equity, even if–or when–it hurts us economically and socially. True equity is difficult to achieve because it requires turning social norms on their heads, and we have a critical role in moving that needle forward.

    All facts and figures are from

    Some of us may have had President's Day off work, some of us may take advantage of a sale or two, and some of us go about our business without a thought to our first President.

    I hope that all leaders spend time reflecting on these lessons, living them out in our own roles.

    Do you want one-on-one coaching? 

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements.  Each week you'll get a link to the most recent blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Monday, February 05, 2018 4:06 PM | Victoria Reese (Administrator)

    Please join us in welcoming Victoria Reese to Nonprofit Network! She will be serving you as one of our Capacity Builders and Certified Bridges Out of Poverty Facilitators.  Drop a line and tell her hello! 

    Victoria Reese

    Capacity Builder

    I’m ecstatic to join Nonprofit Network's team and to have the opportunity to introduce to myself. As a native of Battle Creek, I spent many summers in Jackson visiting my grandparents and have very fond memories of the community. 

    For most of my professional career, I have devoted my life to social justice and mission-driven work that has a lasting positive impact on vulnerable populations. Collaboration has been essential to my success and I have worked with multi-disciplinary teams to address violence against women, develop strategies to decrease inequities in health, and obtain a federal charter to operate a community development credit union to expand economic opportunities to improve the quality of life for low-income families. 

    I have an inherent belief that communities are whole and resilient and that the solution to any community problem is in the community. I also believe that when we co-create strategies with the public, we develop tactics that meet their needs and enable real change to occur. 

    I am affiliated with numerous professional and volunteer networks, giving me the unique experience of serving as both grantee and grantor. This has given me an in-depth perspective on the state of nonprofit organizationsthe changing landscape, the struggles they face, and their development needs. 

    I am married to my best friend, Tim. I have one daughter, two step-children, and four grandchildren. In my spare time, I enjoy teaching spinning, extreme couponing, and domestic travels. 

    My desire to be a part of an innovative organization that is forward-thinking, values equity and inclusion, and recognizes the need to partner with the community to bring about change has led me to my new role in Nonprofit Network. As I researched and learned more about the organization, its values and commitment to serving the community, I knew it was a perfect fit as it aligned with my personal goals and values. 

    I am delighted to add joining this great team to my credentials and look forward to meeting and learning from you.

    Please join us in welcoming Victoria!

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements.  Each week you'll get a link to the most recent blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

  • Tuesday, January 30, 2018 12:07 PM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)

    Carrie Heider Grant

    Program Coordinator

    Say goodbye to boring meetings with these 10 strategies to promote engagement and innovation.

    Do you know how much time the average employee spends in meetings?  I asked the all-knowing internet and was surprised to find that the answers range from 18-50% of their time, depending on their role in the organization.  That is wild!  

    Time is, arguably, the scarcest of all resources at our disposal.  So it's critical not to waste it on unproductive and boring meetings. 

    A truly valuable meeting is built on three things: 

    1. Thorough planning
    2. Precise agenda
    3. Engaging facilitation.

    I am going to share some tools that we at Nonprofit Network often useboth internally at staff and board meetings and publicly with our clients—to make meetings engaging.

    Say goodbye to boring meetings with these 10 strategies to promote engagement and innovation.

    1)  Unplug.

    Keep a basket at the door to hold cell phones until the meeting is over.

    2)  Go paperless.

    Cut out all paper. Use a white board for notes (take pictures with your phone to preserve records) or use collaborative apps to share the agenda and working materials.

    3)  Leverage connections. 

    Phones can be incredibly distracting at meetings. But they can also be an opportunity to encourage attendants to stay engaged by utilizing apps to participate in conversation, polls, and dialogue.

    4)  Clear the clutter.

    Remove tables from the room to promote openness.

    5)  Color outside the lines.

    Provide adult coloring pages and materials to jump-start creative thinking, promote active listening, increase information retention, and decompress stress. You can also provide some tactile toys that people can fidget with during conversation to keep their hands busy and their minds focused on the dialogue.

    6)  Off the clock.

    Start at an unconventional time. Weird times are more memorable and can help to reduce tardiness.

    7)  Stay on your toes.

    Consider removing chairs and holding a standing meeting. But be respectful of all attendants and do not alienate colleagues that are wheel-chair enabled or otherwise unable to participate in a standing meeting. The intent is to keep people engaged, and isolating attendants would be counterproductive and possibly harmful.

    8)  Round robin.

    Hold round robin conversations to gather more perspectives.

    9)  Vote here.

    Use sticky dots to "vote" and voice opinions.  This creates a visual that reinforces consensus in the room.

    10)  Break it down.

    To make the most of your time as a large group, separate into small groups to dialogue, then come back together and have one person from each group share the key points of their conversations.

    Do you have any tried and true strategies that you use to keep people engaged in meetings?  Let us know!  I'd love to hear what you think.

    Need help getting out of a run of boring meetings? We can help you build a plan to get out of the boring meeting cycle.

    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements.  Each week you'll get a link to the most recent blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.

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