Planning and Facilitating a Group Meeting
This training focuses on how to prepare for and lead a CCL monthly meeting. A productive chapter meeting goes a long way toward getting people to stay active in CCL. Making sure people feel included, engaged, and leaving them with a sense of hope and progress is the key to a successful meeting. The goal is to have as many people as possible participating in productive actions that are meaningful to them.
One of our challenges is to get everything done in a short amount of time (one to two hours), so it requires that you plan in advance and stay focused on your goals. This starts with knowing the monthly actions.
501c3 Details and Group Insurance
- Is your group meeting in a public space and in need of demonstrating 501 c3 certification status? If so here is the download form for Citizens' Climate Education. If you have any follow-up questions please email CCL's Chief Financial Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Is your group in need of demonstrating proof of insurance? Visit the Proof of Insurance Tool for instructions on how to apply with CCL's home office to demonstrate proof.
The Week Prior to a Chapter Meeting
- Call people beforehand to personally invite them, especially newer members or people you haven’t seen in a while. You can delegate some of this to other members who have good people skills.
- Type up an agenda (see sample agenda tab), including the laser talk, and make copies to hand out. Even if you have a small group, it shows seriousness and respect for people’s time when you print up an agenda, it helps organize your thoughts, and it helps keep your members on task during the meeting.
- Read the action sheet right away when it comes out the week before the meeting, and decide the best way to handle the national actions for your group.
- What can you set in motion before the meeting?
- Who might you ask ahead of time to volunteer?
- Have in mind or in place the things you want to delegate and to whom.
- Gather together any materials you need.
The Day of the Meeting
- Bring snacks and your agenda, actions and print-outs.
- Get there early and set up your room before people start arriving. Consider having other volunteers help with this. You want to be ready to greet people when they arrive, and not have to set up the conference call line at the last minute
- Start on time but welcome latecomers.
Running the Meeting
Local meetings can happen before or after the monthly call with our guest speaker. It’s fine either way and isa matter of what works for your group and perhaps your time zone. If you decide to do the local meeting after the monthly call, try to get introductions and announcements done before the national call starts.
The challenge is to balance keeping things moving while allowing for participation. Sometimes you have to cut people off, for the sake of others. Having an agenda you can point to can help you get the meeting back on track.
Suggested Meeting Parts
Ask people up front to keep introductions to one sentence so we can stay on time and include everyone. Include a fun or inspiring question:
- your name and something you did for the planet last month
- your name and your favorite movie
- your name and tell us one thing we’d never guess about you
Even in a small meeting of people who know each other, taking a few minutes to share builds community and sets a positive tone.
Quickly review bullet points of what your team accomplished last month and acknowledge people’s contributions, but keep it moving. Occasionally, you may ask someone to expand on something they did.
Arrange the announcements in order of priority. You may put upcoming events on the agenda several months in advance, even though you don’t discuss them at every meeting. It’s a way to remind people to plan.
There are local projects people in our chapter have taken on or that we might want to take on. Rarely should you do a lot of discussing of these things in the meeting but aim to have someone or a team take charge of making those things happen.
- We use the meeting to inform each other, solicit feedback when needed, and test for interest in activities. If you need a longer discussion about an action, such as around strategy, set up a special additional meeting that’s open to everyone who wants to come.
- If no one wants to volunteer for something, then we don’t do it. If something needs a lot of planning, then a committee gets set up, and they make their plans outside the meeting.
- Don’t vote on whether your team should take on a specific action. Instead, support people to carry out the things they want to do, and appreciate the things that get done.
The CCL Home Office and your Regional Coordinator will help you know what you can or should be doing, and we trust group leaders to use their judgment about how or when to be doing national actions.
Come up with a plan before the meeting for handling national actions. Writing letters or making calls may happen during the meeting, so make time for it. For other more involved actions, look to forming a committee.
- Sometimes CCL Home Office comes up with something that your team doesn’t have the capacity for doing, so don’t do it or wait until a better time.
- Have point people for certain things, like building key relationships. Actions like arranging editorial board meetings and congressional meetings tend to get handled by those people.
Most importantly, include time to practice laser talks and other communications skills as directed by CCL’s Home Office. Not only do we need to keep practicing our talking points, but it’s the one time in the meeting when everyone gets to talk.
A simple formula for practice:
- Have people pair off.
- The first person has 2-3 minutes to read the laser talk out loud and then say in their own words what they most want to remember.
- Then the other partner does the same thing.
- You can bring the entire group back together again for a group discussion.
It takes 5-8 minutes total and everyone is engaged.
At the end of your agenda, try not to let anyone leave before you’ve co-created an assignment to be completed by next month. Ask if you can follow up with them in two weeks.
After the Meeting
- Have someone send out notes.
- Engage newcomers to find out how they liked the meeting.
- Do not beat yourself up about what you don’t get to.
Mid-month, pick up the phone and call your members to see if they have been able to complete their assignments.
- If they have completed their task, thank them and celebrate their success!
- If they haven’t, find out what is stopping them from doing so. Help problem solve. Offer to follow up again in a week. Set them up for success so that they feel good about doing what they promised to do and want to come to the next meeting to report on their success. For more advice, see the Being Supportive and Inspiring Action training.
Thoughts About Group Size
Regardless of whether you have 2 or 30 people in your group, this approach works well. The meeting may well be the only time some volunteers engage during the month, so this structure keeps people engaged and focused.
If you are running a smaller meeting, do a lot of it the same way—making sure to take time to deepen your relationships with some personal sharing, noticing what we each did that month (our successes), and thinking together about what we will do in the coming month. And maybe you would put outreach on the agenda every single month to remind yourselves to think about that often.
Sample Meeting Agenda
From CCL’s Madison, WI, Chapter
- Introductions and Announcements
- Please update your CCL registration on the computer before we start (if you didn’t do it last month).
- The national conference in D.C. will be June XX. Start planning to come!
- Nov. XX 2-5 p.m.: Finding courage, facing fear, carrying on… together. At Madeleine and Glen’s home, (Address here). Please RSVP to Madeleine or sign the sheet.
- Celebrate Successes
- Six letters to the editors published in October. Editorials in the Journal Sentinel and State Journal.
- Tabling in Sauk City, Holy Wisdom, and at the Mother Mary Church in Wiskaset.
- Presentation to Dane Co. retirees by Dick Smith. Presentation to League of Women Voters by Joel Charles.
- Local items
- Regional conference December XX at Camp Manitoqua near Joliet, Illinois. We could use a carpool coordinator… Friday night/Sat. a.m. events especially for Climate Reality Project presenters.
- Sponsoring events with the Aldo Leopold Nature Center: next one is Nov. XX at 11 a.m. on biofuels. 2-3 Tablers are needed. The flyer was emailed out.
- National actions
- Practice the laser talk with a partner.
- Outreach to faith leaders (sign up on the sheet, Sara will coordinate)
- Members of Congress during the Thanksgiving recess—collect thank-you’s for Rep. Pocan? Madeleine will work on Sen. Baldwin and find someone near Sen. Johnson to request a meeting.
- Help wanted (talk to Madeleine)
- Someone to coordinate tables and outreach
- Help getting speaking engagements in Janesville and Fond du Lac/Waupun/Beaver Dam—looking for and contacting local groups or churches.
Where To Go
Structuring Your Meeting
- Sara Wanous