Meetings have several functions. They give members a chance to discuss and evaluate goals and objectives, keep updated on current events, provide a chance to communicate, keep the group cohesive, and allow the group to pull resources together for decision making. The following are some tips to help make your next meeting successful, productive and fun.
BEFORE THE MEETING
- Define the purpose of the meeting. If you can’t find a purpose, don’t have a meeting.
- Develop an agenda.
- Distribute the agenda, background material, and lengthy documents or articles prior to the meeting so members will be prepared and feel involved and up-to-date.
- Choose an appropriate meeting day, date, and time. Set a time limit for the meeting and stick to it.
- Arrange the room so members face each other (if possible), i.e. a circle or semi-circle. For large groups, try U-shaped rows.
- Choose a location suitable for your group’s size. Small rooms with too many people get stuffy and create tension.
- Use visual aids (poster, diagrams) for interest. Post a large agenda up front for members to refer to. Be sure everyone knows where and when the next meeting will be held.
DURING THE MEETING
- Greet members and make them feel welcome.
- Serve refreshments if possible. They are good icebreakers and make members feel special and comfortable.
- Start on time. End on time.
- Review the agenda and set priorities for the meeting.
- Stick to the agenda.
- Encourage group discussion to get all points of view.
- Encourage feedback.
- Keep conversation focused on the topic.
- Keep minutes for future reference in case a problem or question arises.
- Be a role model by listening and showing interest, appreciation and confidence in members. Summarize agreements reached and end the meeting on a positive note. Set date, time, and place for next meeting.
AFTER THE MEETING
- Write up and distribute minutes within three or four days.
- Discuss any problems during the meeting with officers and advisor(s); come up with way to improve.
- Follow up on delegation decisions. Check to see that members understand and carry out responsibilities.
- Give recognition and appreciation to excellent and timely progress.
- Put unfinished business on the agenda for the next meeting.
- Conduct a periodic evaluation of the meetings.
An agenda is an important tool for the leader who wants to make effective use of meeting time. It is usually in outline form and guides the conversation of the meeting. Agendas can also be used to assist in long-range planning and help in record keeping. Some things to keep in mind:
- Allow all members the opportunity to submit items of discussion for the agenda.
- Develop an agenda that fits your organization’s needs. Not every group does a roll call or approval of the minutes.
- Try to distribute the agenda in advance. If your organization does not print agendas for every member, post the agenda in advance. At the very least, put the agenda on the blackboard for your meetings.
- During meetings, record all items that need to be placed on future agendas.
- Allow for flexibility in the agenda.
- Call to Order — Opening of the meeting by President or leader.
- Roll Call — Attendance of all members taken by Secretary.
- Reading and Approval of the Minutes from the Last Meeting — Minutes distributed or read aloud; members point out changes and vote to accept them.
- Officer Reports — Each officer gives a report of his/her current activities. Many organizations include an advisor’s report.
- Committee Reports — Each committee gives a report of their progress.
- Old Business — Discussion of items previously brought up, but tabled.
- New Business — Discussion of items not previously brought up. If agenda is sent out a few days early, it’s a good idea to leave some blank space to add items that need immediate attention.
- Announcements — Items that need no discussion, but that members need to know (i.e. dates of events, announcing leadership programs, deadlines, etc.)
- Adjournment — End of the meeting.
Remember that agendas are meant to offer direction — not dictate action.