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Leadership Series:
Making the Most of Meetings

by the Mississippi Cooperative Extension Service

Your members want to be active. They want to learn. As a teacher, you can help make meetings both enjoyable and educational. Each session should include activities that members feel are important to them. Involving the group in planning meetings is one way to stimulate continuing interest.

A meeting is one method of carrying out a phase of the planned club program. In addition to providing fun, it also helps members do the following:

    Learn by doing
    Develop confidence
    Form a cooperative attitude
    Gain experience in planning
    Know how to make decisions
    Obtain a sense of group pride
    Assume leadership responsibility
    Acquire new knowledge and skills

The patterns of your meetings are up to your group. There are no formulas or "secret recipes" for productive meetings, but experience tells us a few basic things are important. Members of your group need to know they can organize a meeting in a way that seems best to them. If your group has officers, they should conduct the meeting. But they will need your guidance. Arrange time to meet with them in advance so they are prepared and can assume complete responsibility. Members should manage the business meetings, not the leader.

As you and your group make plans for meetings, there are several things to consider.

The Meeting Place

Select the best place available. Remember the light, air, and room arrangement are important. Explore possibilities and choose a location that will make it possible to fulfill the purpose of the meeting. Members' homes may work out well, but public and civic facilities may also be used.

Length of Meetings

Should your meetings last two hours, three hours, all day? The subject, ages of your members, and kinds of activities will help you determine the best pattern. Interest spans among boys and girls vary with age and the kind of subjects being studied. Older members can usually be expected to stay with an activity longer than younger ones. Decide in advance when to start and when to finish, so parents can make transportation plans.

Frequency of Meetings

How often should meetings be held? There is no "right" answer to this question. Some leaders think that frequent meetings should be held, maybe weekly, as new groups are formed. They feel this helps to take advantage of initial interest. Many groups and clubs meet every other week. Once a month may be satisfactory for teens. You and your group can discuss possibilities and arrive at a decision.


Every meeting should include a variety of experiences. Some groups include activities for early arrivals, business, education, and recreation. These are merely possibilities. You and your group should work together in selecting what is to happen and how it will be done.

Activity for Early Arrivals

Everyone feels best and gains most when he is at ease. Activities for early arrivals or a game at the beginning of the meeting helps the group develop a spirit of togetherness. Members can plan and lead games to help others have fun. Helping everyone feel welcome and accepted is vital to enthusiastic participation and response.


Continuity from one meeting to another is important. Everyone in your group needs to be informed and reminded of plans and responsibilities. A busines session may be held as soon as everyone is present. This can be formal, using parliamentary procedure, if your group has officers; or there can be an informal discussion to look ahead, make assignments, and make important decisions.

Information on how to conduct business meetings is available from your Cooperative Extension Service staff. Start with a brief review of ideas covered at the previous meeting before presenting new material. As you prepare to teach a subject, involve members in making "presentations." Members can give speeches, illustrated talks, or demonstratins as a part of the teaching-learning process.

Variety of Methods

Think about using a variety of methods. Experts tell us that greater learning is achieved when people see and hear, and do something.

Cone of Experience


radio, tape, CD
written words
still pictures


TV and movies


field trips
public presentations (showing how and telling why)
role playing
substitute (simulated) experiences
learn by doing -- real experiences

The Cone of Experience illustrates that people learn least through the spoken word and that they learn most when they do something themselves. The cone will serve as a guide in selecting appropriate methods.

Remember, it isn't necessary to use every method at each meeting. The ages of your members, meeting facilities, and available time will help determine ways to present information. Some people consider the educational section the heart of the meeting. Contact your Cooperative Extension Service staff for visual aids, projectors, slides, tape cassettes, and other materials.


A change of pace is important. We all need a break in routine, and recreation or a social event will do wonders for morale. The age, sex, and size of your group will determine the kinds of activities. You will also need to consider the meeting place, time, and preferences of your group members. You can get directions for games, songs, dances, and drama from your Cooperative Extension Service staff.

Measuring Progress

Everyone wants to know what he has learned and how much he has grown. Your group members will want to know how far they have moved toward their goals.

Arrange time at one meeting or at the end of a series to discuss the major successes of your program. You may also identify areas where the group didn't meet expectations. This process will help develop an even more effective program next time.

You may raise a few questions to stimulate discussion:

    Did we reach all of our goals?

    What things were the most fun?

    Which activities could have been improved?

    Did everyone assume his responsibilities?

    Have we learned new skills and ways of doing things?

    Can we identify new areas to explore and study?

Looking Ahead

Anticipation is half the fun. If members of your group are to remain active, they need to look forward to the next meeting. Make sure they know the date, time, and place of the next meeting. Alert them to the major topic, and remind individual members of specific responsibilities.

How do all of these items fit together? A guide or outline will help you and the members to know what is going to happen, how it will be done, and who is responsible for various assignments. Feel free to design your own format; as a suggestion the following guide may be helpful. The items included under each heading are examples only. Try to complete details for at least two meetings in advance. Remind members also of their assignments.

Meeting Outline Guide

Date__________________________ Time____________ Place_____________________________
Purpose __________________________________________________________________________________
What How Who Notes
Activity for early arrivals




Looking ahead

Meetings can be fun, and they can provide constructive experiences.

Meetings give youth an opportunity to make new friends, exchange ideas, increase knowledge, develop skills, enjoy recreational activities, and work together. Successful groups hold meetings that do the following:

  • Are well planned. Members know what is going to happen.
  • Follow a schedule. Set definite dates and times.
  • Let parents know, too.
  • Occur often. Help maintain interest through frequency.
  • Take place in comfortable and convenient surroundings. Select the best location available.
  • Start and end on time. Consider the interest span of the group.
  • Provide fun and education, too.

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About the Author:

This document has been produced by the Extension Service of Mississippi State University in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and is reprinted with permission.

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