Are you thinking of having an offline meeting for your group? Let’s face it. Chama meetings can become boring if we keep doing the same things all the time. You know the routine. The Chama ladies file into the conference room, sit in the same chairs and kick around the same ideas. Holding meetings in the same surroundings day in and day out can lead to ,stagnation of members, habitual interactions among members and stale thoughts. So, what should you do? Change your environment. Take the meeting off-site. Here are five tips to help you plan an effective off-site meeting:
The physical surroundings of your off-site meeting can determine your level of success. Hotels and conference centers can be great locations, but don’t ignore other locations. Try alternative spots such as by the pool, museums, aquariums, restaurants, etc. Be sure to tour your location ahead of time to see the possibilities and limitations. Be sure to check the space for creative seating arrangement potential, technology requirements, break-out space, and catering options. Consider where most of your Chama members are coming from and select a location that is convenient. The goal is to minimize distractions and maximize group participation.
Think through your agenda carefully and build in time for networking, brainstorming and problem-solving. Select your vision for the day—is it supposed to be an intense meeting, a laid-back retreat, or a balanced program combining a little of each? Don’t create an overly ambitious plan that proves impossible to cover in your allotted time. Determine what needs to be done beforehand and prepare adequate lead-time for writing documents or arranging details.
Budget your costs ahead of time and be sure to account for all potential expenses. Include travel expenses, food and beverage needs, supplies, technology needs and space rentals among other items.
Be sure to clear the date in advance with the desired members attending. When choosing a date for your off-site meeting, consider offering two choices—a preferred date and an alternative one. You should plan an off-site meeting at least a month in advance and preferably during a “down time” to avoid creating unnecessary stress. Make the meeting mandatory so that all Chama members are present and decisions made that day include everyone. Let participants know the important details, but keep some fun surprises for them. Circulate an agenda outlining your objectives and ask for preparation ahead of time in certain topic areas.
The first priority of the day is business; however, give your participants some time to enjoy themselves. Build time into your schedule to allow them to take advantage of any extras available at the meeting site. Include fun team-building or brainstorming activities that lead you to the desired outcome of the day.
Wishing you all the best in your next offsite meeting. Success to you in pursuing your chama goals.
Photo sources: Nation media group
This post was written by Diana Wangari
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