The Best Way to Start a Meeting: The Mission Moment


Please share a success story from your work in the last month. Last year, I asked staff to respond to this request in a meeting. And the response I got surprised me: silence.

Unfortunately, staff could not identify one; not because they hadn’t done great work, but because they were lost in process, policy and procedure, losing focus on the reason we exist. To address this, I implemented a practice often used by nonprofit organizations – the Mission Moment.

To remind us why the board is there to support the organization, board meetings open with a staff or board member sharing a specific story about a client and how the organization improved their life in the last month. This helps the organization in several ways. First, board members feel more committed to the organization because they have a real life example of how the organization is changing lives. Second, when board members are asked by outsiders what the organization does or why they serve on that board, they have a concrete example so people truly understand what the organization does, not just the mission statement. Additionally, we often got bogged down in the details and lose sight on the reason we exist and why we are there to serve. Finally, it focuses the team on the mission at hand, reducing the opportunity for strife because the meeting and the discussions involved become about the people we serve. Asking for Mission Moments at your work can yield similar benefits.

A good Mission Moment is a story about a person, the obstacle(s) they faced, and how the staff of the organization helped them overcome the obstacle(s). This isn’t a time to share program overviews or the latest data. It’s time to tell a 3-5 minute story about a person and how the agency’s work helped him/her.

At my office, we now often start meetings with Mission Moments. We tell these stories not just in meetings but through videos on our YouTube channel, through a blog on our intranet and in our annual report. Staff members see what success looks like and how their work changes lives.

How do you keep staff focused on your organization’s mission? I would love to hear your tips and best practices in the comments below.

Meredith Benton is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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LaRel Rogers

Hi Meredith – great blog post! Here at GovLoop we have “First Friday’s” where we get together with our parent company Gov Delivery to share how the latest project is helping constituents do their job better. I think including the obstacles we overcame could turn it into a Mission Moment and will yield similar benefits as your company. Thanks for sharing!

Meredith Benton

LaRel – What a great idea and a powerful opportunity for your organization. Thanks for commenting and sharing this with me.

Shannon Kennedy

I love this idea!! It is such a quick, great way to start a meeting. Especially if the mission moment can relate to the topic of the meeting or overall theme of the week! I will definitely keep this in mind. Thanks!

Meredith Benton

I’m glad you like the idea, Shannon. I hope you will share how it goes if you are able to implement the idea. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


What do you think about doing Mission Moments like this in a church? Ours are uninspiring… boring. They consist of a staffer from an agency we support. They give the whole who what when where why. But will staffers want to come give such a narrow presentation, be convinced it would be more effective?