Plan a Meeting or Event
Ready to gather your neighbors for your first meeting or event? Follow these six easy steps to get your group started.
Host a meeting or social gathering. If there are no pressing issues on your block, hosting a social gathering can be a great way to start the block club on a positive note. When concerns arise, hosting a meeting with an agenda can be more effective in addressing concerns. It is important to let as many of your neighbors know about the event as possible.
You can post flyers at local businesses and door-to-door for residents. Your district council can help you create and print flyers if needed. The best way to get folks to attend? Spend time one-on-one with your neighbors talking with them. People are more likely to attend if they feel a personal connection with someone prior to the meeting.
We all know that being the person coordinating events can be stressful, but if you prepare well, your stress should be limited. Try to share responsibilities with your neighbors. So what should you do to prepare for the event?
Use this checklist:
❏ Advertise the event!
❏ Find a nearby, safe and accessible location for the event. Be sure to let people know on the flyer if they should bring things with them (such as chairs or food to share).
❏ Prepare a schedule or agenda so people know how long the event will last and what to expect.
❏ Prepare a sign-in sheet to collect contact information. Be sure to ask neighbors if they are willing to share this contact information with everyone in the block club or just with you.
❏ Confirm any presenters you have for the event, and make sure they know about how many people to expect. When having presenters, be clear with them what information you want and how long they have to present that information.
If you have business to discuss at a meeting, it can be helpful to have an agenda. It establishes the items to be discussed and the timeline for the meeting.
When planning your agenda consider the following:
- Try to keep the meeting to a reasonable amount of time 1-1.5 hours.
- Have presenters know their schedule ahead of time, so they don’t have to leave prior to their presentation time.
- Limit the agenda to just a few items. Try not to let discussion take place that is not on the agenda. This may mean that some things are not discussed at the meeting.
- Recognize that some issues may be too complex to handle at a regular meeting, so don’t be afraid to table a discussion and set up a special meeting just on that topic.
- Ensure that you include action items on each agenda; it helps to spark people’s interest.
- Leave time at each meeting for people to raise their issues/concerns, but don’t let these take over the meeting, especially on-going problems.
The key to running an effective meeting is to ensure that you follow through with your plan. You can do this in several ways, but the following recommendations may help you:
- Get consensus on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting.
- Spread responsibilities to others. For example, ask individual participants to take notes, be a timekeeper, or lead discussion of some meeting items. This will help more people feel engaged in what is happening.
- Respect people’s time. If discussion extends beyond the allotted time, check in with the group. Is the group willing to drop a different agenda item to continue discussing this issue? Does the group need to schedule an additional meeting to allow adequate time for this discussion?
- If one person dominates the discussion, ask other opinions to encourage full participation.
- Set ground rules for the meeting.
It is inevitable that every group has participants who provide challenges to working productively.
Here are some possible difficulties and ways to handle them:
- Bomb-dropping. Some people love to throw out misinformation to get a reaction from the group. The best way to deal with this behavior is to have your own good accurate information. Be polite but don’t let them get away with making inaccurate statements. Once they have been called on their behavior a few times, they will usually stop it.
- Storytelling. Everyone has a story or issue that they like to talk about, but nothing will get done if people are allowed to jump in with random stories. The best way to handle it is to thank the storyteller for their input and experience but remind them that as a group you had agreed on the agenda and time for the meeting, and that it is important to stay on focus so you can accomplish your group goals.
- Impatience. Some people are doers and not listeners. Learn to recognize them early, and give the doers tasks to accomplish for the meeting.
Don’t let the meeting end until you have established some follow-up items.
- Set your next meeting date - Determine who is responsible for carrying out actions taken at the meeting
- Set your next agenda, and designate people to call for presenters, gather information, draft and distribute flyers, etc. As the block group organizer you do not have to carry all the responsibility.