Planning & Leading Meetings
Meetings give members a chance to discuss and evaluate goals and objectives, keep members updated on current events and provide cohesiveness and a chance to communicate. Most of all, meetings allow groups to pull resources together for decision-making.
Planning for Meetings
Presidents should familiarize themselves with the organization's history, traditions and operating procedures before announcing a meeting. Start with the organization's operational documents that describe the rules of the group. Look at old minutes or talk to senior members about how meetings ran in the past.
If you are organizing a new group, talk to several active organizations on campus to see how they operate. Become familiar with campus resources, facilities, and personnel so you can know where and who to go to for help.
The work of most organizations is accomplished between meetings, not in them. Meetings are generally for planning, reporting and decision-making. If leaders plan each detail before meeting, the meeting can be effective and enjoyable.
This section is designed to help you with those guidelines and give you ideas for personalizing your leadership style.
- Choose Meeting Time: Choose an appropriate meeting time and stick with it. Members will be more likely to attend meetings if they are productive, predictable and as timely as possible.
- Group Dynamic: If possible, arrange the room so that members face each other, like a circle or semicircle. For large groups, try U-shaped rows. Choose a location suitable to your group's size. Small rooms with too many people get stuffy and create tension. A larger room is more comfortable and encourages individual expression. A room too large may encourage members to daydream or become isolated from discussion.
- Communicate Effectively: Let all members know about the meeting. Don't rely on a single method of contact. Use the phone, mail, computer, word-of-mouth and public posting to notify members. Always reserve the meeting space immediately after a meeting or for a semester at a time.
- Make an Agenda: The agenda should be made before each meeting. Make copies of the agenda for each of your members. This gives an overview of the meeting and a place to take notes. Each agenda should include:
- Call to order
- Introduction of guests
- Reading minutes from last meeting and any correspondence
- Treasure’s report
- Reports of committees and officers
- Old business
- New business
- Special reports/announcements
- Be a Good Host: Make new members and guests feel welcome by introducing them to individual members, helping them find a place to sit, and thanking them for coming. If your meeting includes a speaker, be sure someone is responsible for meeting the speaker and acting as a host.
- Meeting Flow: As the president of your organization, you are responsible for guiding the flow of your meetings. To do this effectively, use the following guidelines:
- Remain impartial while chairing the meeting--presidents should only vote to break ties
- Recognize all who have comments or questions
- Keep the group on the topic at hand
- Clarify questions--re-state them if necessary
- Practice the art of summarization
- Keep order in the discussion and be alert to members' reactions
- Do it by the Book: Conduct all procedures, including elections, motions, and vetoes according to your organization's established guidelines. This can deter any controversy that may surround group decisions made in meetings and allows for a means of appeal.
- Watch the Time: Start all meetings on time and finish on time. Maximize time by having handouts ready to distribute as people enter. Consider placing handouts on desks or chairs ahead of time to cut down on passing distractions during the meeting.
During the Meeting
The president serves as a guide in a meeting, helping members interact in a controlled environment. The president’s job is to ensure that the conversation does not get too heated and basic courtesy is upheld. Decide on some guidelines prior to the meeting so every member knows how decisions will be made:
- Who may recognize a speaker?
- How is a time limit for a topic set?
- How are discussions initiated or motions made?
- How is voting done?
- How are disagreements settled?
- If something is not on the agenda, how will it be handled?
- If a motion fails, can it be discussed again?
- If strict parliamentary procedure is used, how are members trained in its use?
After the Meeting
Encourage Secretary to write up and distribute minutes within 3days. The person who ran the meeting should discuss any problems that arose during the meeting with other officers. He or she needs to follow up on delegation decisions. It is the president’s responsibility to see that all members understand and carry out their duties. Any unfinished business is put on the agenda for the next meeting.