Good management of meetings makes attendance and participation enjoyable. Meetings that are too long, boring, confusing, or unproductive will discourage members from attending the next one and drive students out of the groups they have joined.
A little prior planning will go a long way toward making the meeting productive and fun.
Things To Do Each Meeting:
Prior to the meeting:
- Make sure everyone involved knows when and where the meeting is.
- Post a notice of the meeting on bulletin boards, the USM calendar, Facebook, Blackboard or set up a phone tree so that members call other members to remind them.
- Ensure that the leaders agree on the goals of the meeting.
- Have everything you need for the meeting on hand.
- Send out the agenda in advance so members can be prepared
During the meeting:
- Follow the agenda. A good agenda includes some or all of the following:
- a.) Call to order;
- b.) Announcements;
- c.) Quorum - how many must be present to do business;
- d.) Approval of minutes (articulated in your constitution and bylaws, or follow Robert’s Rules of Order);
- e.) Committee reports - break your group into several committees so a small number of people can work on specific projects or strategies and report back with recommendations or findings;
- f.) Old business - things left over from the last meeting;
- g.) New business - the main thrust of your meeting. This is the time for new ideas to be brought up and discussed, handling them one at a time so that attention is focused on one topic;
- h.) Closing remarks - set a time and place for the next meeting and assign tasks to be completed before then;
- i.) Adjourn.
- Always have a written agenda for your meetings.
- Encourage discussion but be ready to curtail it and redirect the focus when it becomes a conflict of personalities or a free-for-all
- Ask “why” and “how” questions to stimulate discussion
- When assigning responsibilities, set realistic time limits, and respect members’ individual priorities
- Keep your time schedule. (IRarely should any meeting last longer than an hour)
- Provide direction, but remain democratic and fair to all members.
After the meeting:
- Discuss the meeting with your advisor if you have one. He or she can help you recognize what was effective in the meeting and what you can improve upon.
- Ask your members what they thought of the meeting. They will appreciate that their opinion counts and may have some excellent suggestions.
- Plan a strategy for your next meeting so you can implement new approaches.
Most organizations are made up of smaller committees - the publicity committee, the hospitality committee, etc. Committees are a fantastic way to involve all members in the organization. However, at times we fail to have strong committees. For example, only two people show up for the coffeehouse committee on Tuesday nights.
Why? Two factors are probably involved:
1.) The chairperson’s inexperience in facilitating a successful committee;
2.) The leader’s failure to provide the chairperson with certain fundamental
principles of working with a committee.
There are three types of Committees:
1. Standing: those committees which exist each year;
2. Ad hoc: a committee created for a special purpose; when the purpose has been completed, the committee ceases to exist (i.e.: an ad hoc committee for the scholarship banquet in April.)
3. Task force: a committee formed to investigate a situation (i.e.:the Task Force on the Freshman Seminar experience.)
For standing committees, most groups have pre-established procedures for selecting members and the designated chair is usually an officer of the organization (example: the Student Senate Treasurer chairs the Finance Committee). However, when special committees are formed, there are certain tips one should remember.
Tips for Effective Committee Work:
- Committee Members must feel:
1. The committee is an important one
2. The organization will pay attention to their reports/activities
3. A sense of participation and belonging
- The Chairperson should:
1. Be able to lead and coordinate ideas and people
2. Understand committee assignments and be committed to them
3. Have the necessary knowledge and experience to get the task done
4. Be willing to devote the necessary time
Once the Committee is formed:
You now have a chairperson and members on the new committee. What needs to happen next?
- Give a clear statement of the purpose for the committee, including the limits of authority (ex: is the committee authorized to buy equipment?)
- Provide a list of names and extensions of all committee members including chairperson
- Provide necessary resources (paper, binders, etc.)
- Pass along suggestions from members on possible committee methods.
- Determine the date the report is due and its format.
- Meet with the committee chairperson to explain basics of conducting a meeting.
- Stress the importance of delegating tasks, so as to keep all members involved.
- Set up the next time you will meet with the chairperson to review progress.
- Every committee report should include these five main points:
- Statement of assignment which was given to the committee
- Statement of what the committee is expected to do with the assignment (i.e.: take action, make recommendations, fact-finding, clarify, or investigate.)
- A brief summary of methods used and general plan
- The information gathered or a summary of work accomplished
- Conclusions, findings, or recommendations