Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

February 24, 2009


The Work Site provides lots of good advice for activists. Here are some excerpts from their piece on how to hold better meetings:

Ask each person to come - in person if possible, by phone if not, by email as a last resort. If they don't plan to, try to find out why. Even if these contacts don't get each person to come, they provide an opportunity to discuss some of the points that will come up at the meeting.

If turnout from particular parts of the organization is still low, talk to leaders from those areas to see how you can help them.

Areas with high turnouts should be recognized - including how they achieve high turnout -- at meetings, in publications, and on the organization's Web site.

Set up carpools and ask people if they need a ride. Often they won't volunteer that information.

Provide child care in a separate room or nearby location, staffed by member volunteers or their teenage children. For some members the meeting will then be a welcomed opportunity to talk with other adults without taking care of kids too.

Invite people to bring their spouses or friends. Often, their commitment is stronger if their spouse understands the issues.

Provide non-alcoholic drinks or light snacks if the meeting must be held at meal time.

Make sure the meeting time is convenient for most people. If necessary, hold a series of meetings to accommodate people with different work schedules.

Keep the meetings brief. If word gets around that your meetings drag on too long, attendance will drop off. For many groups these days, one hour would be considered a long meeting.

Start and end on time. That's the only way to develop a culture of starting on time, make sure people don't leave before key decisions are made, and ensure that each participant doesn't have to invest any more time than needed.

Plan ways for people to participate. Give as many as possible assignments such as making a report, leading a discussion, taking notes, or arranging for beverages.

Try to give some specific information those participating wouldn't have had if they didn't attend.


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