MAKING THE AGENDA:
- Establish goals, purpose, desired outcome(s) of meetings
- Involve everyone – your agenda should include time for officer reports, member input, discussion. You want to give members something to work on so they feel involved, but remember to not overwhelm them. We all love this work, but we all have different amounts of time to give.
- Print out sign-in sheets to take attendance and collect member contact info: sample sign-in sheets
- Decide who will take minutes; usually this is the secretary, but can vary from chapter to chapter.
- Sample agenda
FIND A LOCATION AND DECIDE ON A TIME:
- On campus, common areas are generally your best bet. The location is especially crucial when trying to attract new members. It’s scary enough to go check out a new club where you don’t know anyone and you have no idea what to expect, so try to the rest of the experience as comfortable and familiar for them as possible. A meeting at a member’s apartment sounds great to someone who already knows the group, but for someone new, it sounds like this: “you want me to come to your ‘SSDP’ meeting? With ‘15 members’ I’ve never met before? At your shady apartment 5 miles from campus? No thanks.”
- Timing is up to you. Some chapters work best with meetings as early as 2pm and some as late as 10pm. It totally depends on the culture of your campus and its students, your chapter members’ schedules, and your own personal circadian preferences.
- When scheduling meetings, it’s important to establish consistency, not only with meeting locations, but with times as well. Changing your meeting times every week will only result in lackluster attendance. You want people to know that SSDP meets every week (or every other week) in the same place at the same time. It may be a long time between when someone first hears about SSDP to when they finally decide to attend a meeting. Keeping your times and locations consistent will help that person find you when they finally decide to go.
ADVERTISE – make sure everyone and their mother knows about your meeting; when it is, where it is, and what you will be discussing.
- School radio
- School newspaper
- Your own mailing list
- Personally reach out to people – have members text or call someone who has only been a few times and encourage them to come; remember to be genuine 🙂
DURING THE MEETING:
- Begin by giving everyone a copy of the agenda and stating the purpose and desired outcome(s) of the meeting (this should be included on the agenda)
- If you don’t have the agenda printed out or you don’t have enough copies for everyone, have your secretary write it on the chalkboard or put it up on a screen for people to see. Why? Because everyone loves to know what’s next, not only to satisfy their own curiosity, but also to know when their topic will be discussed, when to ask questions, and when to just listen. Your members are going to have questions during the meeting and it just works our better for everyone if they know ahead of time what the agenda looks like. That way, they know when to speak up and when not to, and they don’t waste time by asking about something that will be addressed later.
- Take attendance – pass around sign-in sheets so you can keep track of how many people attend your meetings and so you can collect your members’ contact information and let them know about future meetings and events.
- Try to keep your meetings to an hour or less
- Different styles work differently for different chapters, but a good rule of thumb is not to keep people for more than an hour. They’ve got other things to do after the meeting, and when you respect their time, they’re more likely to return in the future because they know you won’t suck them into a pointless 3 hour debate about why the British version of Planet Earth narrated by David Attenborough is better than the American version narrated by Sigourney Weaver.
- Before everyone parts ways, give your members something to work on for next week.
- It can be something as simple as “bring your class schedule next week so we can decide on a meeting time” or as intricate as “find out when and where the GOP primary events will be so we can confront the candidates about drug policy.” Giving them something to do, big or small, lets them feel more involved and gives them an extra reason to come back the next week.
AFTER THE MEETING:
- Add all new members to your contacts so you can let them know about future meetings and events
- Notify your supporters about how the meeting went and what was covered
- Send summarized minutes out to mailing list
- Post in your Facebook group
- Upload any pictures of the meeting (the more crowded it looks, the better!)
- Every meeting is successful!
- Let your network know that this was the most fun you’ve had all week and you cant wait for the next one!
- Tell them when and where the next one is