Running a Meeting
Preparing for the Meeting
There are a lot of aspects that are involved in running a meeting, so it is important to set aside time beforehand to plan out some of the details. Here are some steps you can follow and details to keep in mind.
Step 1. Define the purpose of your meeting
Take some time to determine the purpose of your meeting. What is the reason you are having a meeting? What would you like to achieve? Are there any goals that you have? Writing this information down in a document can be a helpful way to organize your thoughts, keep record of meeting topics, and communicate with other club leaders.
It is important to stay organized, focused, and professional.
— Melinda Ong, President of Society of Women Engineers, 2017-2018
Step 2. Create an agenda
Keep in mind the purpose of your meeting as you develop your agenda. Write your agenda down in the document with your purpose and goals. Here is a sample agenda to get you started.
Step 3. Plan a date and time
Set a specific date and time for your meeting well in advance so you have enough time to work out all of the details. You are required to fill out an E-plan for events. Here is a link to more information about Cal Poly's E-plans.
Step 4. Delegate roles and responsibilities
Trying to do everything by yourself can be overwhelming. Delegating roles and responsibilities can even out the workload and allow your club members to actively participate. Responsibilities could include anything from organizing icebreakers or games, bringing food, or coordinating speakers. Make sure to notify those who have roles or responsibilities ahead of time so they have plenty of time to prepare. More information about the details of these responsibilities can be seen under "Meeting details".
Step 5. Share meeting details with members
Once you have worked out details, share the document you have created with club leadership so they are notified of the structure of the meeting and any roles that they may have. You may also want to briefly notify club members of the topics of the meeting so they come prepared.
Inviting guest speakers, recruiters, or experts in the industry to your club meeting can be a great way for your members to gain knowledge from an experienced professional. Reach out to people that you think your members would enjoy and benefit from listening to. It is generally most effective to ask in person or by phone call, but emailing would work as well. Here are some things to keep in mind while speaking with someone you are inviting to come to your meeting:
- Reason for invitation: Why would you like this speaker to attend your meeting? How would that person impact the club by visiting? Are there any benefits that the potential speaker would gain by coming to campus?
- Availability: What dates and times work well for your speaker to visit? Do any of those correspond with your typical meeting times?
- Meeting topic: Is there a specific topic you would like them to speak on, or are they free to speak on whichever topic they choose?
- Your speakers' proximity to campus: Are they within reasonable driving distance or will they need to travel? Will your club be paying for any travel expenses? If distance is an issue, is FaceTiming or Skyping a possibility?
For events serving food on campus,
- Fill out an E-Plan to request the space.
- Request approval to serve food. Fill out the Food Waiver Application. Submit to University Catering for approval (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | In person: The catering office is located in the UU Plaza next to 805 Cafe).
- You can expect an email from someone at Environmental Health & Safety. Please comply with all paperwork and training they will require.
If your club meeting is closed to public and food is only being served to members, then you will not have to fill out a hospitality form. Here is a link for more information regarding Campus Food Policies.
Icebreakers are a great way to help club members get to know each other in a low stress environment. One way to do this is by beginning your meeting by asking members to meet someone new around them. During this time, provide your members with a question or two to guide conversation. You could even focus these questions towards the purpose of the meeting. Here are some examples of questions to start conversation:
About your club
- Why did you join this club?
- What is your favorite event that this club hosts?
- How long have you been a member of this club?
- What is advice you would give someone who is just joining this club?
About the person
- What is your major? How did you choose it?
- Where is your hometown? What is one of your favorite things to do there?
- What is your favorite thing to do in San Luis Obispo?
- What was your first job?
- What is your earliest memory?
- Who is someone who has been a big influence in your life recently?
- What is one thing you want to do before you graduate college?
- What is your favorite animal and why?
- If you could have a useless superpower, what would it be?
- What are some of your favorite quotes?
- If you could instantly be good at any skill, what would it be?
- What is the best advice you have heard?
- What is your favorite cereal?
If none of these jump out to you, search the internet for more ideas (there are a lot of great icebreaker questions out there) or get creative and start making some up on your own.
There are also many other ways to introduce icebreakers. Some of these include:
- Write different icebreaker questions on a beach ball. Have everyone stand in a circle and pass the ball to one another. When someone catches the ball, have them say their name and answer whichever question their thumb is on. You can also purchase these online by searching "Icebreaker ball."
- Create a "People Bingo" board that has twenty-five different traits. Give each of your members a board and a pen. The rules are simple: find people around the room who have a trait on the bingo board to sign that square. Here is a sample Bingo board and a blank Bingo board to get you started.
In addition, icebreakerideas.com has more good ideas for icebreakers.
There are many different ways to let people know about different events happening in your club. One way is to send emails to members. Another way is to have social media accounts such as Facebook or Instagram that update members with information about the club and upcoming events. Many college students have social media accounts and use them frequently so this is a good way to get information out quickly.
Lastly, you can make announcements at the club meeting. Set aside some time at the beginning or end of your meeting to have a couple friendly faces announce upcoming events and important information. Make sure to give those people a heads up beforehand so they have time to prepare what they would like to say. It is also effective to make slides for the announcements and possibly small pamphlets if you have an important event.
Holding the Meeting
Before the meeting
Give yourself enough time before the meeting to set up and welcome members as they come. One great way to welcome people is to have a table including any helpful information about your club, nametags, printed agendas, merchandise, and an iPad or laptop for people to sign themselves in. Here is a sample sign-in sheet you can use.
It is also beneficial to have food and beverages out to make attendees feel more comfortable and relaxed. Free food typically attracts college students, so it may even increase attendance.
It is important to start and end on time. Therefore, give everyone about a five minute heads up before you start so they can wrap up conversations and start getting seated. You could even project a countdown in the room.
During the meeting
As your meeting progresses, continue to make sure that your club is an inviting and friendly atmosphere for both new and old members. Also, be courteous to everyone's schedules by starting and ending on time. While keeping the agenda in mind, designate someone to take minutes of the meeting.
Towards the end of the meeting, provide a time for questions and answers from the club members. If time runs out before you get a chance to do this or your agenda is too busy to add another item, consider creating an online survey or printed comment ards for feedback and questions. Make sure to thank your members for attending.
Reflecting on the Meeting
After the meeting, set aside some time to evaluate with some of your club's leadership. Review and discuss the meeting minutes. It is a good idea to write the information that you discuss in a shared document to reflect on for later meetings or events. Here is a sample Meeting Reflection document. Consider asking questions like:
- Did the meeting accomplish its purpose? Why or why not?
- Were the goals that were set for the meeting achieved? If so, what made this possible? If not, was there anything that hindered goals from being met? Were the goals that you set practical?
- Did your club members seem to feel welcomed and included in the meeting? If not, what changes need to be made to create a friendly environment?
- What parts about the meeting went well? What are some areas for improvement?
- Is there anything in the meeting that you need to alter to make it better in the future? If so, what are some feasible ways that you can do this? What are some effective things from this meeting that would be good to do again in the future?
Next, review any questions, comments, or suggestions from members during the meeting. Decide how you want to address these.
Also, make sure that all of the documents and minutes from the meeting are stored in a central place. You can store them flash drive or share them with others online via Google Drive, Dropbox, or your Cal Poly OneDrive account. In addition, make sure everything is organized well so that it can be easily accessed in the future. Consider making a file path similar to this: Club Name > Meetings > MM/DD/YY > [documents from the meeting].
Congratulations! You have learned how to plan an effective and awesome club meeting. If you need any help along the way, don't be afraid to reach out to others and utilize the resources you have. We hope that your club meeting goes smoothly.