Where The Wild Things Are

By: Elizabeth Smith, Project Coordinator

Have you ever had a runaway committee member who hijacks the meetings and goes on never-ending tangents that cause the meeting to run over? If so, you have experienced a Wild Thing. In my experience with Wild Things, they have passion for the organization and excitement for the project, but their enthusiasm can sometimes hinder the progress. Luckily for you, there are a few tips and tricks to control your Wild-Thing-volunteers and become Max, the King of the Wild Things.

  1. Have an agenda: Give everyone a printed copy of the agenda to set a clear expectation of what you hope to accomplish during the meeting. If the discussions continue to carry over the allotted meeting time, consider adding start and stop times to each item on the agenda. If the topic time keeps running over, ask to schedule time on the next agenda for the topic or to resume the discussion at the end of the meeting.
  2. Offer to meet one-on-one: Take the time to hear the person one-on-one and take into consideration their ideas and/or frustrations. Give them an opportunity to be heard without taking everyone’s time. Ask the member if you can concisely draft bullet points from the discussion and report back to the committee in the next meeting.
  3. Prep Max (the leader/facilitator): Set your chair or co-chairs up for success by sharing an agenda before the meeting so they are aware of the business that will be covered. Offer to draft talking points for them to reference to keep the discussion moving and on topic.
  4. Use the Wild Things to your advantage: Match the individual’s talents with the needs of the organization. If the volunteer is talking nitty-gritty and too in the weeds for the overall discussion, ask them to take charge on one particular item that they can run with.
  5. Follow up with assignments and notes: To keep everyone on task, follow up with notes and assignments within two days of the meeting. This will serve as a record of what was discussed and next steps, which will keep the meetings moving forward instead of discussing the same topics over and over. Sending notes will also help in case someone missed the meeting and the items that were discussed!

Hopefully, these five tips will help to tame the Wild Things and lead to a more productive meeting for everyone. Always remember that the members on the committee are volunteering their free time and their time should be used as wisely as possible. Everyone wants to make it home for a hot meal!