10 Often-Overlooked Tips to Lead an Effective Off-Site

A lot of leaders do off-site meetings for their teams. They can range from a complete waste of time to truly catalyzing the next season of ministry. @@When done well, off-sites are the short range camps to your long range summit.@@

There is a general understanding amongst leaders that off-site meetings are for looking back and looking forward in an effort to advance your organization. The center of the bullseye is clear. But I want to offer up 10 supporting objectives we tend to miss when leading an off-site. Here they are.

  1. Start A Day Early: Your off-site is a day longer than everyone else. You need 1 full, uninterrupted day to yourself to plan the goals and agenda for your off-site. Your staff’s time is extremely valuable. Therefore, be extremely prepared. 
     
  2. Solicit Input: After you develop a plan and set your agenda and goals, run it past the most senior leader participating in the off-site for feedback. Then, make any changes necessary.
     
  3. Select The Right Venue: I like to get my team out of their environment, so I choose spaces in other churches or organizations who are doing great things. It’s also a great idea, during a break, to get a tour and hear vision from a leader of that organization to gain a greater perspective outside of the work you are immersed in.
     
  4. Set The Environment: Have energizing music playing when the team arrives. Set the tables and/or chairs in a U-shape with you and any supporting media as the focal point.
     
  5. State The Goals: Let your team know exactly what is to be accomplished during your off-site. Don’t assume they know. This unifies the team from the start toward the stated goals.
     
  6. Schedule Breaks, Keep Them Short: Breaks are helpful, but only when they are short. You’ll hopefully get your team in a groove, and the worst thing you can do is halt any momentum with too long of a break. Keep them at 5 minutes. Just trust me.
     
  7. Steer Without Driving: You designed the off-site, and you’ve had more time with the agenda than anyone. The temptation will be to fill in all of the blanks too quickly with the first sound of silence. You aren’t forcing the content; you are facilitating a process. Hold your opinion back to only be used as a tie-breaker in an effort to... 
     
  8. Seek Consensus: Many debates, discussions and decisions will be a part of an effective off-site. You can let a few of the loudest voices dominate. When a solution or idea is offered, I always ask, “Do we agree?” If we don’t, we work toward consensus. Working toward consensus turns good ideas into great initiatives. 
     
  9. Save Time For Fun: Thanks to generous supporters, we’ve enjoyed sporting events, unique restaurants and oasis-like settings in the evenings. Your team needs time to put strategy aside, unwind and just enjoy one another. These seem to be the moments when the greatest long-term advancements are made on your team. 
     
  10. Stop Early: I advise our team that our off-sites are 2 days, but I always make them a day and a half. When your team crushes the goals and agenda of an off-site early, they are more energized to attack the new initiatives with greater energy.

Are you hosting an off-site for your team this year? What are some of your tips?


Are you stuck in planning an off-site for your team? I can help! I love coaching teams through a strategic planning process. Check out my Coaching Packages to get started today.