The “Committee” Word

It’s all well and good for me to rant about the word committee. Yes they drive me nuts when poorly facilitated. But what happens when you cannot get out of one? It happens to all of us more often than we care to admit. What can you do to make the most of the situation? Or as Zig Ziglar would say, how do you make lemonade from a sour lemon?


Early Warning System


If you know in advance that you will be required to attend a committee meeting there are some things you can do. No I am not talking about calling off or taking a vacation day. That is a war of attrition you will surely lose since there will always be more meetings than you have days to take off. No, what can be done is to plan ahead. Meet with the organizer ahead of time and ask them in a friendly way what is on the agenda. You achieve two things here you want to be prepared and you care about the content the group will discuss. If the organizer has not planned an agenda another opportunity is opened. The organizer can now plan for a more successful meeting and you have the opening to help them create it. By helping fashion the direction of the committee meeting you now have a chance for an active role in the groups direction and progress. This is almost a guaranteed “get out of boredom card”.


Proactive Growth


If the organizer is the type that really would rather not facilitate the meeting, you can offer to take on this role as a growth opportunity. There is no better way to learn how to facilitate than to do so. The bonus here is that as a learner you will generally be given more latitude to make mistakes. So go and make a few learn a new and seriously important leadership skill, facilitating groups to agreement and through process.




Yes all of the above may not work. You may be stuck in a meeting that is more boring than death itself. What do you do? Check out? No challenge yourself to stay engaged. There are many ways to achieve this. You could pay attention to the content of course ;-)


Okay so enough with the sarcasm. Another way to focus your attention is to look at body language and interpersonal interaction. I wrote a post about people watching a while back on my other blog here. You should also go back and watch the FEDEX Ground commercial in another post on that blog. Essentially you want to begin to understand who defers to who, who gets irritated at what, who is engaged, who is checked out, who has a stake in an issue and so on. Believe it or not over 90 % of communication has nothing to do with the words we chose. It is the tone and inflection and body language that accompanies them that tells the whole story.  Why do you think I was so keen to add sound to our site here?!

If all else fails you can always volunteer to take minutes for the meeting. At least then you have a role that requires you to pay attention.

Look all of the above may seem at times a futile effort, I realize that. What I also know is that people who can stay engaged despite the circumstances position themselves to make a difference, to make a contribution. If you think for a second that this goes unnoticed, think again.

Lead (and facilitate) well 



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