1. Set the agenda during the meeting; allow it to develop. Have members throw ideas into the ring to see what seems important.
2. Distribute reams of background material at the meeting. No one would read it beforehand anyway.
3. Have open-ended agenda items that involve open-ended discussions.
4. Ensure that everyone on the committee has as much time to speak as they want; let the meeting run freely. Don’t worry about time limits.
5. Ensure that each issue is fully discussed, even if there is already a consensus. Let discussions run to their natural end.
6. Don’t worry ahead of time how committee members feel about issues — you can find out at the meeting.
7. Never summarize the pros and cons of an issue being discussed. The committee will resent it.
8. Spend lots of time wordsmithing during the meeting. Focus on grammar and choice of words. Bring a dictionary and thesaurus.
9. Avoid bringing agenda items to a vote — there is always the next meeting. Even better, leave items until next year when you won’t be chair.
10. Make sure key agenda items need outside expertise for a decision to be made.
11. Leave the most important and complicated items until the end of the meeting.
12. Don’t delegate actionable items. Ask the committee to send you an email sometime before the next meeting if they have any good ideas.
13. Routinely and often ask committee members to respond to questions by email, and tell them to copy everyone on their reply. Never use a subject line: “Re:” is good enough.
14. Always call on the same people since some members are much more knowledgeable than others.
15. Don’t take notes. No one reads the minutes anyway.
16. Never coordinate anything with staff. That would require forethought.
17. Show up late. You’re a busy person, and committee work is not that important.
18. Don’t decide what to do at the next meeting, that’s what the next meeting is for.
19. Building a consensus is for people who can’t make decisions. Be a good leader by letting everyone unambiguously know where you stand on an issue.
20. Robert’s Rules? How retentive was this guy? He probably needed psychoanalysis.
21. Call meetings early or late in the day: 8:00 AM on Monday and 4:00 PM on Friday work best.
22. Routinely cancel and reschedule meetings, never more than two hours before the scheduled meeting.
23. Send a reminder no more than 30 minutes before the start of the meeting. Send the meeting time and place in two separate emails.