I’ve worked on a couple - one for a well known local charity and one for my son’s prep school (this particular one lasted for about five years in total).
They were … how shall I put this? … interesting experiences!
Committees should work as a team. A collective body of seemingly like-minded people coming together to discuss an objective and to get the job done smoothly and effectively.
Maybe I’ve been on some dodgy ones but, from conversations I’ve had with others, I think you can always expect to find ‘the types’ who are more obstructive than useful.
Here are my top ten tips for being a valuable member (and not a tool!)
- The meeting has not been laid on for your benefit. No one cares how difficult it’s been to make time for this in your busy schedule. We don’t want to know about your youngest’s bowel habits or your painful Brazilian. In short, this is not a platform for you.
- Only speak if you have something really vital to add to the proceedings. And then be concise - people have homes to go to and unnecessary comments or repetition really aren’t helpful.
- If there’s alcohol involved, please try to limit yourself to a couple of glasses. You might become very passionate about a subject that, in the morning, will mean nothing to you. It’s a meeting not a party.
- Don’t sit and constantly brag about, “How things used to work when I was Chair.” You’re not chair anymore and sometimes a reshuffle can only be a good thing.
- If you want to use the meeting to moan about every single issue discussed (or some not even on the agenda) and how things should be done differently, maybe it’s time you moved on. Devil’s Advocate is OK but doing it just to cause mischief is time-wasting.
- Be prepared to do some actual graft rather than just be a mouthpiece. And if you commit to a job, do it. It’s not fair to be a passenger and then bathe in the afterglow of a job well done by someone else.
- Chucking bucket-loads of money at your cause and bragging about it really won’t make you popular. You could be doing that from a much quieter and more dignified position. No one likes a show off.
- You must have a genuine desire to make a difference. This isn’t a forum to big up your ego or to score social points.
- Go in with a spirit of compromise rather than get arsey if your ideas aren’t accepted.
- Be punctual. It might be socially acceptable to arrive at a party fashionably late but we have a table of people waiting to get down to business and we really don’t care if you’ve made a stunning entrance in this year’s Prada.
Meeting is now adjourned, minutes taken and issues discussed.
Join Libby and Fenella in my debut novel ‘Diary of a Mummy Misfit’ as they encounter the mad world of committees, bitching and botox. Available at Amazon for Kindle. Now also in paperback at Lulu.