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San Diego State University

Student Life and Leadership

Conducting Effective Meetings for Student Organizations

illustration of people at a meeting tableDo you dread attending meetings because they are dull, unproductive, disorganized or too long?  Meetings can be unfocused, boring and are sometimes called unnecessarily.  This does not mean meetings are inherently valueless, but indicate they are often poorly planned.  A meeting is not an end in itself, but a vehicle to help you reach a goal.  Meetings help a group determine courses of action.  If the facilitator starts with a careful plan and finishes with a thorough follow-up, the meeting will run smoothly. 

The following are some tips to help you make your meetings successful, productive and fun:

Purpose of Meeting

  • Give members a chance to discuss and evaluate goals and objectives and develop courses of action.
  • Keep members updated on current events.
  • Provide opportunities for the group to communicate and promote group cohesion.
  • Allow the organization to pull resources together for decision making and plan implementation.
  • Ensure members are aware of their importance to the group.  Ask for opinions and ideas.
  • Solve problems.

Meeting Preparation

Before you call a meeting, you must ask yourself whether you have to call it at all.  Sometimes a group-wide e-mail or a few simple conversations can accomplish the same thing more easily.  If you decide you need to have a meeting, then you must plan carefully.  This is your most important step as a meeting leader.

  • Physical Setting - Remember to reserve a room, arrange for any special equipment and have a plan for putting the room back in order after the meeting is finished.  SDSU Recognized Student Organizations can reserve rooms through Aztec Center Meeting Services or a classroom through Student Life & Leadership (Student Services West, room 1661).
  • Agenda - Defines the purpose of the meeting.  The agenda should not be overly ambitious, but should address all items necessary for the meeting.  Agendas may include; Approval of Agenda with any additions or retractions, Correction and Approval of Minutes; Announcements; Treasurer's Report; Committee Reports; Unfinished Business; New Business; Special Issues/Concerns; Adjournment.  Communicate with your advisor prior to the meeting to see if they have any additions to the agenda.
  • Distribution - Distribute the agenda and any other pertinent other information (e.g., articles or relevant policies) to members prior to the meeting (perhaps by e-mail) so they can review and be prepared to discuss items.  Also, make sure members know where and when the meeting is to take place.

During the Meeting

Attitude

  • Greet members and make them feel welcome.
  • Get people excited about the meeting! Show your enthusiasm.  Make it fun and enjoyable.
  • As a leader, be a role model.  Listen, show interest, appreciation and confidence in members.  Respect people's feelings and acknowledge constructive contributions.  Head off private conversations that are irrelevant to the topic at hand.
  • Be professional and courteous.  Allow everyone the chance to contribute.

Atmosphere

  • When possible, have light refreshments, even if it's just candy.  This helps people relax and breaks the ice.
  • Encourage group discussion and feedback on all discussion topics.  You will have better decisions and highly motivated members that help shape the organization and the activities if they have participated in the process.
  • Keep conversations focused.  As gently and tactfully as possible, end discussions when they are unproductive or becoming detrimental.
  • Recognize, recognize, recognize - Congratulate members who have done something great in the organization, on campus or elsewhere.  Celebrate significant holidays, birthdays, organizational accomplishments, etc.  Be creative and have fun with recognizing your members.

Agenda

  • Appoint someone to keep minutes of the meeting for future reference.
  • Start on time and end on time.  Be mindful of other people's time.
  • Review the agenda, and then stick to it.

Accomplishments

  • Get done what you need to get done.  The average person's attention span is 23 minutes, so it's a challenge.
  • Work for consensus.
  • Summarize agreements reached and end the meeting on a positive note by asking members to express things they thought were good or successful.

Adjourn

  • Conduct and collect a meeting assessment/evaluation (if you have one).
  • Set a date, time and place for the next meeting.
  • Collect any sign-in or sign-up sheets.
  • Close the meeting with a strong positive statement.  Thank the group and acknowledge their efforts.

After the Meeting

  • Write up and distribute minutes within the next few days.
  • Discuss any problems from the meeting or the assessments/evaluations with other officers and your advisor.  Work on solutions and implement them at future meetings.
  • Follow-up on delegated tasks and ensure members understand and fulfill their responsibilities.  Give recognition and appreciation to excellent and timely progress.
  • Put unfinished business on the agenda for the next meeting.

Checklist to Use When Planning Meetings

BEFORE THE MEETING

__ Reserve meeting room
__ Arrange room to accommodate group
__ Prepare and send out a meeting agenda
__ Contact committee members and advisor for reports
__ Prepare handouts/print copies of agendas and previous minutes
__ Prepare necessary visual aids
__ Reserve audio/visual equipment
__ Pick up snacks (if desired)
__ Invite guests/Confirm attendance
__ Confirm Advisor attendance

AT THE MEETING

__ Greet all members by name
__ Sign-in Sheet
__ Start the meeting on time
__ Introduce guests/new members
__ Conduct meeting
__ Stick to the agenda
__ Who will greet latecomers?
__ Keep order
__ Hand out materials
__ Announce time/place of next meeting
__ Other announcements
__ Track assignments

WHEN YOU ARE THE ATTENDEE AT A MEETING

__ Confirm location and time the day before the meeting
__ Review the agenda and prepare any questions or concerns
__ Be on time and prepared
__ Stay focused on the discussion

IF YOU HAVE A SPEAKER

__ Be sure to give the speaker directions and parking information
__ Select a well qualified speaker
__ Brief speaker ahead of time as to the audience, subject, time limit
__ Speaker should provide a biographical outline ahead of time for their introduction

AFTER THE MEETING

__ Clean up
__ Collect unused material
__ Return equipment
__ Follow up on committee assignments.