National Collegiate 4-H

Meeting Facilitation

Meetings can be ran in multiple ways. Using parliamentary procedure allows meetings to be ran efficiently. The common format for running a meeting is Roberts Rules of Order. The National Collegiate 4-H organization uses RRO in running the National business meeting. A list of different motions that are commonly used at the national meeting is available. Using a system similar to this helps meetings to flow and keeps people on track and to make sure all opinions are being heard. Depending on the topics at hand and the size of your club will depend on how strict you need to follow the various rules. Determine what is best for your club, but stick to a format.

Beyond having a format for which you follow there are many ways to make meetings fun and efficient. Below are a list of ideas to help with both.

  • Have an agenda prepared and available. You can do this by either having a paper copy printed for each member or if available projected electronically, or both.
  • Have an activity before or after the meeting for socializing. Keep meetings as short as possible to allow for this.
    • Have snacks
    • Play a game of some sort. It could be one of the games you play while working with a group of youth.
    • Incorporate a service project into your meeting.
    • Go get food after the meeting.
  • Make meetings meaningful. Make sure you have relative information to convey. Include members in discussions. Ask for opinions and ideas. If members feel involved they are more likely to come to meetings. If they feel there is no purpose they won’t.
  • Break up the meeting with an activity.
    • Incorporate a service project.
    • Have someone teach the club a game they could use during a training.
    • Bring in a guest speaker.

Running Effective Meetings

The organization meeting is probably the most important area for determining the success or failure of a group. They give members a chance to discuss goals and objectives, and keep updated on current events. They provide a chance to communicate and keep the group cohesive. But most of all, meetings allow groups to pull resources together for decision making. Start with careful planning, finish with a thorough follow-up and the meeting will almost run itself. Here are some tips to make your next meeting successful and productive. 

Before the Meeting.

  1. Define the purpose of the meeting. If you can't come up with a purpose, don't have a meeting.
  2. Develop an agenda with the officers and advisors.
  3. Distribute the agenda and circulate background material, such as lengthy documents or articles, prior to the meeting so members will be prepared and feel involved.
  4. Choose an appropriate meeting time. Set a time limit and stick to it. Remember that members have other commitments.
  5. If possible, arrange members so they face each other. For larger groups, try U-shaped rows. A leader has better control when he/she is centrally located.
  6. Choose a location suitable to group size. Small rooms with too many people get stuffy and create tension. A larger room is more comfortable and encourages individual expression.
  7. Use visual aids, such as posters, for interest.
  8. Vary meeting places if possible, to accommodate different members. 

During the Meeting.

  1. Greet members and make them feel welcome, even the late ones.
  2. If possible, serve light refreshments, they are good ice breakers.
  3. Start on time, end on time.
  4. Review the agenda and set priorities for the meeting.
  5. Stick to the agenda.
  6. Encourage group discussion to get all viewpoints and ideas. You will have better quality decisions as well as highly motivated members.
  7. Encourage feedback. Ideas, activities and commitment to the organization improves when members see their impact in the decision making process.
  8. Keep conversation on topic toward an eventual decision. Feel free to ask for only constructive comments.
  9. Delegate responsibilities and establish due dates. Give members a voice in decision making.
  10. Keep minutes of the meetings for future reference in case a question or problem arises.
  11. The leader should be a model by listening, showing interest, appreciation and confidence in members, admitting mistakes.
  12. Summarize agreements reached and end the meeting on a unifying or positive note. For example, have members volunteer thoughts of things they feel are good or successful.
  13. Set a date and time for the next meeting. 

After the Meeting.

  1. Propose and distribute minutes within 24 hours. Quick action reinforces the importance of meetings and reduces error of memory.
  2. Discuss problems during the meeting with officers, so improvements can be made.
  3. Follow-up on delegation decisions. See that all members understand and carry out their responsibilities.
  4. Give recognition and appreciation to excellent and timely progress.
  5. Put unfinished business on the agenda for the next meeting.
  6. Conduct a periodic evaluation of the meetings. Weak areas can be analyzed and improved for more productive meetings.