The way meetings are run dramatically influences how members become and stay involved in an association. If meetings rarely start on time or are dominated by a few people, members will become frustrated and will stop coming to meetings. When meetings are well run, people’s opinions are respected, and the agenda is followed, members will feel more willing to participate in other activities of the association.
Details to keep in mind when organizing a meeting:
Time and Date: Find consensus on a time and day of the week that accommodates the people you already recruited to help start the neighborhood association.
Location: Pick a meeting location that is accessible (don’t pick somewhere people need to pay to visit) and will not make people feel alienated (a particular sect of religious worship or a bar where people would feel uncomfortable if they do not drink alcohol).
Invitations: Develop a strategy to get the word out about the initial meeting. Use your existing channels of communication whether it be church bulletins, Nextdoor.com, Facebook, door-to-door outreach, flyers on community boards in local businesses, etc.
Agenda: Every meeting must have an agenda or purpose. Spend time before the meeting deciding not only what to discuss, but also how long and in what order you will discuss the items. It is sometimes useful to put emotional or controversial issues at the end of the agenda. This will allow you to take care of small, but necessary decisions early in the meeting. When listing agenda items, it’s always good to dictate a time limit. It’s possible that you’ll go over or under the limit on some items, but a time limit will tend to keep the meeting on track. Do not overload the agenda. Stay within 1 to 1.5 hours and allow time for refreshments and mingling.
Facilitating the Meeting: Start the meeting on time. Don’t penalize those on time by making them wait for latecomers. Go ahead and start the meeting with less important agenda items. By doing this, you will reinforce the behavior of those who arrive on time without excluding those who are late.
Make sure someone takes the minutes and records the meeting so that those who were unable to attend can keep up with the activities of the association. If you do not have a secretary, rotate this task.