A club meeting is usually the only time when members interact directly with the club. What do your meetings say about your club? Are they friendly, organized, and interesting to all members?
Here are 10 tips for holding a well-planned meeting that projects a professional image to both members and non-members.
- Start on time and end on time. Delaying the meeting start time for the sake of latecomers only penalizes those that do make the effort to show up promptly. It may take a few weeks, but once those latecomers see that the meetings really do start with or without them, they will eventually start showing up earlier.
- Introduce visitors and guests warmly. This starts off the meeting in a friendly tone and makes non-members feel welcome. Remember that every visitor is also a prospective member.
- Prepare and follow a proper agenda. This point cannot be emphasized enough – agendas are critical to meeting a success. Give the mic to committee chairs or other members who would like to make announcements, but keep good control on time.
- Plan meetings with variety. Strive to plan meetings to be interesting, entertaining, and informative for added value to the membership. Search for speakers bureaus to get ideas, or contact nearby clubs to exchange tips on great speakers.
- Create a congenial atmosphere. Members feel best and gain the most when they are at ease. They need opportunities to get to know each other, to talk together, and to build trust. A few ideas to help create positive situations where members feel free to “join in” are team-building activities, small group discussions, and committee work.
- Move people around. In a meeting, seating arrangements become important. Some members, especially new members, may not be outgoing. By changing the seating arrangements from time to time, members will get better acquainted and feel more at ease. Some clubs use a system where each member upon arriving at the meeting will draw a number from a hat, which will designate which table they will sit at, which helps eliminate cliques.
- Hold interesting programs. To ensure interesting programs for the whole fiscal year, the program committee divides the membership into groups of two. Each pair is assigned the responsibility for one program during the year.
- Keep backup programs. Have the program chairperson keep a good program or two available that can be substituted on short notice. Or, hold an impromptu club assembly where the club is divided into two or three groups, and each will focus on different areas of improvement for the club. At the end of the meeting, each group will present to the rest of the club their ideas and conclusions.
- Promote meetings in advance. Announce the program for the following meeting in advance to give people enough notice to ensure they attend. People are much less likely to double book their meetings if they are aware of the speaker and have a genuine interest in attending.
- Keep the board meetings open. Encourage all members to attend board meetings even though only board members have voting privileges. It is particularly valuable for new members to attend and learn the business operations of the club, so add this item to the list of new member induction steps.