Running Successful Meetings

Reprinted from Starting Point (Appendix II.B.2)


Tips for Successful Meetings

Careful advance planning is the key to the success of every meeting, no matter how small or informal. As you begin planning ask yourself the five “W” questions: Why, Who, Where, When and What.

Why are you meeting?

What is the purpose of the meeting? To help citizens gain the information they need to resolve a problem of community concern? To reach member agreement on an issue chosen for League study? To make decisions affecting the operations of your League group? To showcase the League and what it is doing for the community? As you make your plans, know what you hope to achieve and structure your meeting so that you will meet your goals and participants will leave with a sense of accomplishment.


Who needs to be there to enable you to accomplish your purpose in holding the meeting? League members and prospective members? Members of the community at large? Elected officials? Potential partners in an advocacy campaign? The media? All of the above? Will cosponsorship of the meeting help you attract the group(s) you are most interested in reachin g?


What type of location will be most successful in attracting your target audience and in helping you meet your goals for the meeting? Will the meeting be in the home of a League member? Or will people feel more comfortable coming to a familiar public or semi-public place such as a school, library, bank or church? Does the topic of your meeting suggest a particular type of location, such as meeting at a recreation center to learn about programs for youth, or at a hospital to learn about health care reform?

Does the room lend itself to the seating arrangement that will fit the format of your meeting? Will people be listening to a speaker at the front of the room or will it be important for your audience to be able to see and interact with each other? Will you need break-out rooms for small group discussions? If the group will be large, will a microphone be available? Will your speaker need special equipment such as an overhead projector?

Is there a charge for the use of the meeting room? Is there handicap access? Are there facilities for refreshments so that people can have an opportunity to mingle and get acquainted with each other? How about facilities for child care?


What meeting time will be most convenient for your target audience? Weekday or weekend? Daytime or evening? Lunch time, dinner or Saturday brunch? Will a variety of meeting times throughout the year help you reach a more diverse audience?

People appreciate a meeting that begins promptly, ends on time, and accomplishes its purpose in the time allotted. To carry this off, the meeting chair will need a well timed agenda, an eye on the clock, and the ability to move the proceedings along graciously but firmly.

In general, meeting length should be limited to one-and-a-half to two hours. It can help people plan their arrival to designate a certain amount of time (about half an hour) before the official start of the meeting for registration and refreshments. Those who are free can come early to socialize while those who are more pressed for time can arrive for the business portion of the meeting.

For example:

Morning Agenda

9:00 - 9:30 a.m. Coffee and conversation

9:30 - 11:00 a.m. Business meeting

Evening Agenda

7:00 - 7:30 p.m. Coffee and conversation

7:30 - 9:00 p.m. Business meeting


What are the various tasks that need to be taken care of to ensure a successful meeting and who will be responsible for each? Who will:

  • Develop the agenda?
  • Chair the meeting?
  • Reserve the meeting room and confirm arrangements?
  • Send invitations--to speakers, to League members and prospective members, to non-members we especially would like to see attend, to nearby Leagues?
  • Follow up with those we are inviting to encourage their attendance, answer questions, and offer a ride to the meeting?
  • Follow up with our speakers to see what equipment they will need?
  • Contact the media with information about the event?
  • Write an article about the meeting for the bulletin?
  • Arrange for refreshments?
  • Arrive early to make sure that the room is set up properly and that necessary equipment (podium, mikes, overhead projector) is in place?
  • Act as host at the meeting?
  • Help greet newcomers and see that they meet members and other guests?
  • Prepare easy-to-read name tags in advance of the meeting?
  • Make sure that the necessary tools are available: name tags and large markers, sign-in sheet (for membership follow-up), membership brochures, easel with flip chart pad, pencils and paper, handouts?
  • Now that all the preliminary planning is done and the meeting is under way, be businesslike but not hurried. If you create a friendly atmosphere everyone will enjoy the event!


Reprinted from Starting Point (Appendix II.B.2)