How to Re-charge Your Annual Family Meeting
If you have family meetings between the various generations and family units every year, you may find that family members lose interest in those meetings over time.
We’ve had meetings for the past four years. Busy lives, new jobs, new careers, extended family vacations and babies have taken their toll on the time available to meet as well as the excitement level about the meetings. So, I took some time to think through how we could re-charge our meetings. Here is what I came up with.
Change the venue or the feel of the meeting.
Meet physically somewhere new – go outside, take it to a business center, go to a resort, rent a condo.
Meet online instead of physically – use Skype or Go to Meeting or some other online meeting site. Be sure you can see (and hear) each other and share documents.
Make it casual instead of formal – instead of a sit down meeting with an agenda, have each person come up with some conversation starters on the subject of their choice. Combine with coffee or wine and discuss casually.
Change the focus of the family meeting.
Try and educational session or a values discussion or set up a family organization/governance structure.
- Have a seminar instead of a meeting, attend a conference together. Plan for one or more family members to educate the children on a topic. Play games that enhance family legacy, stories or financial prowess.
- Tell stories about family history – make it a production – with pictures or movies or books or some other kind of participation.
- Visit family cemeteries and show pictures of deceased.
- Play games or answer quizzes to find common values.
Invite a third party to share information at the family meeting.
Have one member’s accountant or lawyer attend for an hour and educate or answer questions. Make sure payment terms are agreed to beforehand.
Have one or more successful family members (even from extended family) attend the meeting and talk about their job or business or industry – what they do, why they like it, how they prepared for it, what the rewards are.
Re-affirm or change the purpose of the generational family meeting.
Don’t keep droning on with the same tired agenda if it doesn’t support what the family wants or needs from the meeting.
Poll family members and find out what they want or need before the meeting.
Make suggestions on what the purpose can be – but avoid dictating what it should be.
Change the leadership of the multi-generation family meeting.
Rotate leadership but make sure the new leader knows what is expected. Define the leader duties and expectations for planning, holding and following up on the meeting.
The first generational family meeting may have been a new experience for all family members. It was exciting because it was different. After a few annual family meetings, members may decide the meetings aren’t worthwhile, or they have better things to do with the time, or they are too difficult.
Do you hold family meetings? How do you keep family member interest high?