Sam’s Forum has been together for almost 12 years, and this year he has been elected Moderator. However, he is concerned because several members have expressed boredom and a lack of enthusiasm for the way the Forum is going. They all know each other so well that they already know the experiences they’re going to hear when going around the table at meetings. Sam wants to spice things up and to make their meetings fresh and inspiring.
What Sam’s Forum is experiencing happens in all relationships, not just Forums. Marriages can grow stale after a number of years, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to abandon your spouse. Everything from friendships to business relationships can pass through a phase that seems weak or boring. Know that there are Forums that have been together for 30 years – in fact, there’s a joke in some Forums that your Forum members will be your pall bearers! For many people, Forum is a life commitment intended for the long haul, and they don’t abandon the commitment just because the Forum is going through a dull patch.
Let’s look at a few ideas for spicing things up:
- Take a look at your agenda. Is it the same every month? If so, it’s time to introduce some variations. In fact, some Forums strive to have variation in every meeting agenda keep things interesting and give people something to look forward to.
- Bring in an external speaker. Learn something new! Find a topic of mutual interest and ask a local expert to visit your Forum meeting for 30 minutes to an hour and share their expertise.
- Have a topical discussion, whereby people come to the meeting prepared to talk about a specific topic (employee benefits, exit strategies, last will & testament, etc).
- Select a book that the entire Forum wants to read, schedule a deadline date to read it by, and have a discussion about it.
- Do Forum exercises like the ones you do on retreat!
- Use a unique venue every few months. For instance, go to a soup kitchen, serve lunch to the homeless, and then go to a nearby hotel meeting room for the meeting. Hold your meeting at a children’s hospital. Dress up like cartoon characters and bring gifts for all the kids. Or rent a sailboat and have your meeting on a lake or bay. Be creative and have fun!
- Remind yourselves of the benefits of being in Forum. Ask each person to write down and share the three greatest benefits they have received from the Forum. Or ask everyone to think of their favorite, funniest moment in the Forum and share it with the group. Or invite former Forum members to a reunion dinner! It’s a great way to reconnect.
- Finally, Sam decided to start his term as Moderator with a mini-retreat and bring in a professional Forum facilitator to run the retreat program. This level of facilitation can help to revitalize the group.
If you’re experiencing the same dry spell that Sam and his Forum are, remember to talk with your Forum about your concerns and share some of these plans for re-energizing. Ask for input and feedback. Open communication is the best medicine when the Forum is facing challenges. Few problems have ever been solved when people aren’t talking to each other about it… in Forum and in life.