The Great Meeting Planning Guide
Find a venue
When considering where to hold your meeting, look for a comfortable, flexible space that's appropriate for the number of members you expect. Be creative – your school’s cafeterias, libraries or on campus hackerspaces are great places to start. If your meeting will have more than one or two people, you'll need tables for each participant and room to move around. Ensure there is reliable Internet, enough power outlets and good lighting.
Design a fun experience
Your meeting should feel like a party! A few simple tricks to help create a welcoming, creative atmosphere include playing music, bringing snacks and providing name tags. Having an intro activity such as a madlib or is a great way to get everyone socializing.
Plan your schedule ahead of time but be flexible; your members might surprise you with interesting questions or challenges to explore. Identify early on what materials are needed for your scheduled activities to run smoothly. A checklist of things you will need for set-up/during/after is very useful. Don't forget to leave yourself adequate prep time.
There are many ways to promote your meeting that will create attention and draw more attendees.
- Decide on your attendance goal. how many will you have to invite to make sure that many people RSVP? make a list of people you will invite. decide when you will call/email. ask people to make a hard commitment. call everyone who RSVPs during 48 hours before meeting to reconfirm so fewer people flake.
Online Promotion and Press
- Be sure to share your meeting on the facebook page or site of your club but also on other websites, in student press, meeting calendars, and among other local organizations.
- Your network is a powerful thing! Create a Facebook meeting and invite all of your friends to attend and share. You can also post photos on Instagram or enlist your Twitter followers to help promote your meeting. Here is a social media toolkit to help you get more out of your posts.
- Use Lists
- Send meeting details to local forums or listserves that have an audience who would be interested in attending.
- Don't underestimate the value of a flyer as an informal way to educate others about your meeting.
When you're running a meeting, having the right tech set-up and a good plan B is vital to the success of your meeting.
Determine your tech needs early on and decide whether you need laptops, projectors, AV equipment, extension cords and power cords. Most of your meetings will probably BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop) in which case it is good to send a reminder to individuals to not forget their laptops the day before the meeting. If individuals are unable to provide their own laptops, consider using a space where you can access a computer room or laptops. Another idea is to contact local tech organizations or community computer labs that have access to computers and ask them to sponsor equipment for the meeting. When deciding how many computers you need don't forget that you can have members working in pairs or bigger groups. It’s a good idea to try and have an extra laptop on hand for members just in case of any technical problems.
Unfortunately, tech problems are an all too familiar part of meetings. No matter the preparation, wireless networks or computers can cause unexpected issues. If a few computers are malfunctioning, perhaps ask members to buddy up on computers and work in groups.
Running Your meeting
When preparing for meeting, be sure to arrive early to set-up the space as needed. This will allow you plenty of time in case unexpected issues arise. Remind your co-leads to welcome newcomers, and make sure your co-leaders know what their jobs are.
Welcome & Registration
A good first impression goes a long way towards helping someone feel comfortable and happy at your meeting.
- Thank everyone for coming. Welcome your new and old members and make sure to do introductions for new people.
- Once your meeting gets going it may be very difficult to keep track of who is there. Setting up a sign-in table gives you the opportunity to catch people when they first arrive so you can get the names of attendees and contact details so that you can send out thank yous, links, updates, and invites to future meetings. We recommend you collect the GitHub handles of all of your attendees as well.
- You may also want to give out name tags so it's easier for people to meet and start talking. You can play the name tag game and ask people to list their favorite technology, video game, tv show etc. under their name to help get conversations started. Don't be afraid to get creative and help people break the ice!
Talking about Campus Clubs/Mozilla/Open Source
If it’s one of your first meetings you may want to talk about why you started this club and what it stands for. This is an opportunity to bring in your personal story and make it your own.
It’s up to you whether you want to discuss Mozilla or the larger campus program, if you do want to here are a few options you can choose from.
- Share a video presentation. Choose one of these videos, or another one from around the web that captures what you want your club to achieve, and show it at the beginning of your club meeting. Find a Video
Meetings happen quickly and it's often impossible to capture or get links of all the awesome things being made. Identify a process to capture and share makes early on and share it with volunteers, facilitators and attendees.
When it's time to wrap-up, your attendees will be feeling inspired, energized and ready to share what they’ve learned. You’ll want to take advantage of this moment.
- Set aside time for organizations to share each other's' activities and exchange ideas. At the end of the meeting, bring everyone back together in a circle. Celebrate what members made. Invite a few people to share their work. Encourage the group to share all of their makes to the Campus GitHub Repo.
- Ask members for feedback. What did they learn? What did they enjoy? If they have suggestions for improvement, be sure to take notes or invite them to blog about it. Be sure to ask what the members would like to do next. Provide links to the campus websites where they can continue learning new skills. Later, conduct a debrief with participating organizations and volunteers, if you had any. Gather feedback and ask if the meeting was a good way for them to serve their communities. Discuss ways to continuing hacking together to keep the momentum going.
- Build and maintain a good relationship with your school by making sure you leave it as clean as when you arrived. That way, when it’s time to run another meeting they will be thrilled to have you back.