Where does this meeting fit in the overall plan for dealing with the issue? Take
time for a planning process. Lay out the timeframe, steps, and interim deadlines. Go
slow now to go fast later.
Be clear (by using your agenda) about whether you’re planning a
procedure for dealing with a topic or actually dealing with it. In other words, you’re ei-
ther laying out the steps you’ll take or actually taking a step. One purpose at a time.
Toomany agenda items
An over-ambitious agenda is easy to fall into and sets the
group up to fall short of its goals. Always ask: Are these goals realistic within the
Stay on the same subject; use the same process. For example, either
brainstorm ideas or evaluate ideas, not both at the same time. List possible solutions
or alternatives, then talk about criteria for selecting among them (time, cost, people
required, and likelihood of management support).
Lack of visual helpers
Find a way for participants to follow the subject as the
meeting proceeds. Use flip charts or other means to help everyone focus on the con-
Unclear or incomplete action items or decisions tomake.
Pin down the who,
what, where, and when on the spot. At the end of the meeting, check out all agree-
ments make during the meeting.
Toomany participants; thewrong participant; missing key people.
occurs, pull back and ask someone to facilitate. Don’t miss the opportunity to make
the most of your staff. Take the opportunity to participate yourself.
Lack of mutual understanding.
Learn the issues facing other members. Explain
your position. Ask members to repeat, in their own words, what they hear you saying.
This will head off frustration and reluctance to cooperate.
Jumping inwith a solution too early
There is a danger in arriving at a pet solu-
tion before clearly identifying or agreeing on the problem. Everyone should agree on
the problem and the solution. Buy in ensures support.
Uneven preparation; varying levels of understanding.
Set up a way for people
to be prepared to talk about the issues at the same level of understanding.
Don’t make a motion until the problem is adequately discussed
and analyzed. If you can’t agree on the problem, you probably can’t agree on the solu-
tion (the motion). Premature motions divide the group and create artificial disagree-
Keep an eye out for these danger zones and try to avoid them throughout the year.
No preplanned agendas
Lack of focus on one subject at a time
Too many items on the agenda
Meeting dominated by one or two people.
No encouragement to participate, summarize, or meet goals
Officers solving a problem before involving members.
Meeting management skills should include solutions to each of these problems.
Q. Can you recommend some icebreakers for us to use at the beginning of our
A: Icebreakers are an ideal way to use the first couple of minutes of meeting to ex-
pand members’ knowledge about each other and to add some fun. As you and the of-
ficers are planning agendas, try to build in time for a brief icebreaker from your library
of icebreakers (that can begin with the ideas that follow). Having a folder of icebreak-
ers handy also will be helpful if a meeting ends too quickly and you need to fill some
TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE
For this activity you will need to break into small groups of no more than 10 or 15 oth-
erwise people get bored waiting for their turn). You can suggest that people break up
by the month they were born. Everyone takes a turn sharing two truths about them-
selves and one lie about themselves. The other members of the group have to guess
which statement is the lie.
If you have a large space like a library or stage or large lobby area near your meeting
room, you could play the Circle Game. Everyone takes a seat in a circle and one per-
son stands in the middle and says, “I like people who…(have red hair).” The state-
ment has to apply to the person standing in the middle. Then the center person and all
the redheads (for example) move to another spot in the circle. Whoever is left without
a seat becomes the person in the center. Have someone place a marker (piece of
paper, book, etc.) for their standing spot in the center of the circle.
MYSTERY PERSON GAME
Have everyone split into three of four groups. Each person in the group writes down
four things about themselves. Then the leader of the group reads the statement aloud
and the other people try to guess whom the statements are about.
STAND UP AND SIT DOWN (Recommended for the first meeting of the year)
The leader makes a list of statements that might pertain to members of the group and
reads each aloud. If the statement applies, the member stands up and then sits down.
For example, “Stand up if you visited a college this summer,” or “Stand up if you vis-
ited a beach,” Try to develop enough questions so that everyone has an opportunity to
stand up. Abut 20-25 questions is a good start.
Without talking, all members get in alphabetical order by first name. Do this at the
first meeting with the new inductees and have the advisor or chapter president name
all of those lined up. Many times the adviser will know the name (from the informa-
tion form) but can’t always connect to the face. This activity remedies that problem.
Make a bingo board and put different objectives in the squares. Members get signa-
tures of someone who has…taken an AP exam, drives a car, doesn’t have a driver’s li-
cense, plays a sport, has a job, has been accepted to a college, have a younger sibling,
has an older sibling, etc. Prized (candy) awarded to first one to get BINGO and the first
one to fill the entire sheet.
Ask everyone to divide into groups of five or six and then hand out a quiz. For example,
Name the 50 United States: Give out a paper that lists the first letter of all the states.
Members must fill in the rest.