By: Gloria Kelley

Our overarching belief is that “everyone can do something.” Committees are a meaningful avenue for that to happen, especially with your special events. Some volunteers have limited time and resources. That’s fine. We appreciate their working on one event, maybe if only to help create packages, set up or just greet guests. Others have more to offer that consists of your board of directors to help precure major sponsorships and items and we need all time, talents and treasures to be successful. Anywhere along the range, we seek to make them see how important their contribution is to the overall achievement of our objectives. You know why? Because each one is important.

Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Galactic, is a prolific generator of quotes. One that I like, especially because it recognizes the real folks, those on the front lines, is:

An exceptional company is one that gets all the little details right. And the people out on the front line, they know when things are not going right, and they know when things need to be improved. If you listen to them, you can soon improve all those niggly things which turn an average company into an exceptional company. 

Now the questions become more numerous, such as:

  • What is the purpose and responsibility for each committee member?
  • What should be the membership size of the committee?
  • Who would be best to serve on it?
  • How often should they meet?

And probably a half dozen other foundational questions.

By the way, I suggest that you create a comprehensive list of questions for each committee. Answering them and getting them more involved will make the path much clearer to committee members, a result that will save great time and effort. If you do so up front, you will avoid unexpected gaps appearing and get them more engaged.

If you are just putting your organization or event together, then you are pretty much beginning with a clean slate. If you have been in operation for a while, then you probably already have committees or equivalents (task forces, panels, bureaus, councils or other that you can also draw from).

To optimize your committee structure, I would strongly suggest that you have a planning session that starts from zero but with specific agenda items with objectives and goals. Forget what exists, if anything, and ask yourself this question: ‘What functions need to be addressed in order for our organization/event to succeed?’ Then work your plan and people and see the results exceed expectations.