Page 29 - Student Organizations Manual

MeetingsThat Matter:
Keys to Successful Meeting Management
Determine the Purpose
It would be easy to solve everyone’s meeting woes if all meetings were exactly alike.
But activity groups meet for a number of different reasons, so make sure you look at
each meeting as if it were its own unique entity. Is it educational in nature? At an edu-
cation meeting, you might hear committee updates or listen to ideas on a new pro-
gram. Meetings can be social also, especially at the beginning of the year with all
those newmembers. Many meeting hours are devoted to planning and decision mak-
ing, while others are purely for evaluation. Still others may be for recognition or con-
flict resolution. Determining the purpose of the meeting helps solve many other
organizational details—your officers just might discover they can’t come up with a
purpose and in that case, the meeting’s canceled!
Set the Goals
After you have determined the purpose of the meeting, have your officers set some
goals. Many groups set goals for the year, but howmany set goals for individual
meetings? Really hold your officers’ feet to the fire and encourage them to be specific.
Encourage goals like “Select the Homecoming theme and assign committees” rather
than “plan for Homecoming.” This way, fewer tasks will slip through the cracks and
your members will feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the meeting.
Ask them to fill in the blank, “By the end of the meeting we should have_____.”
Phrasing it this way keeps the focus on the product of the meeting as well as the
process. It also makes setting the agenda relatively easy. Once your officers or other
facilitators become adept at planning, they might not need your input in this step, but
at least initially, you should supervise the goal-setting process.
Get Organized
To have a successful meeting, you need to do some preparation. Many meetings are
doomed before they even start due to poor logistics. The room’s too hot, no one can
hear, or the speaker is late—any one of these can keep your meeting from being suc-
cessful. Try to solve these problems before they emerge. Go back and review your pur-
pose and goals. Keep those in mind when you consider things like how the room
should be arranged and even where the meeting should be held. More informal meet-
ings call for a relaxed setting, possibly with the chairs in the circle or at tables pushed
together. For more formal meetings where important discussion needs to take place,
chairs might be in rows. Perhaps you need an auditorium or lecture hall. Just make
sure the setting matches the purpose.
Many groups like to offer snacks to meetings participants. Consider setting up a re-
freshment schedule at the start of the year. In many instances, many people are more
likely to go along with your ideas if you offer them food. Who wants to argue on a full
stomach? Another facet of organization is publicity. Get the word out about the meet-
ing time the place. Even if your group meets at them same them every week, it can’t
hurt to put up some signs or launch a phone tree.
Set the Agenda
It is especially important to consider your purpose when you set your agenda. Many
groups follow a modified version of the order of business suggested by Robert’s Rules
of Order. They hear the minutes of the previous meeting, then hear committee reports,
then old or unfinished business, then new business. This is a terrific template, but
make sure that it suits your purpose.
Whatever format you use, it is wise to write down the agenda ahead of time. Be rea-
sonable about what you can accomplish during one meeting. No meeting should last
more than one hour; if it does, you should have scheduled two meetings. If your meet-