Parents Voice in Government School Education

Preparing for meetings

For best results, meetings need to be planned. Here are some tips for organisers / office bearers / presidents and secretaries:

  • Know who is coming; be sure of a minimum attendance to make the meeting a success. (Remind people and ask others to help. An email group or Facebook group can be useful.)
  • Gather the necessary materials. (e.g. butcher’s paper, pens, chalk, whiteboard markers, duster).
  • Check equipment that you are relying on – microphone, data projector, laptop computer or overhead projector.
  • Be aware of the physical setting – ease of seeing, hearing comfort. Arrange chairs in a circle or a semicircle to ensure eye contact. Don’t have people sitting separately from an audience if at all possible.
  • For public meetings where you want mass support, always publicly plan for fewer people than you expect. Having to get extra chairs is a victory in itself.
  • Consult with as many people as possible beforehand about what should happen at the meeting – find out their concerns and let them know how these fit and don’t fit into the purpose of the meeting. Pre-consultation will build commitment and group feelings.
  • Discuss in advance the possibility of someone presenting each agenda item, preferably someone knowledgeable or interested in it.
  • If the item is going to be complicated or contentious think ahead about the process for handling discussion (see Useful techniques in Section 2, Meetings). Breaking items up into logical parts can be helpful.
  • Delegate as many tasks as possible before the meeting – from giving reports, to recording, to making refreshments. This helps ensure the success of the meeting and makes people feel more like it is their meeting and makes the organiser seem less central. Don’t scare people off with too much work or responsibility though!
  • Have some likely outcomes planned for – if a decision is inevitable and requires some action, have some method of dealing with it or someone to take care of it, in mind. Check it out with them before the meeting so that when the time comes you can suggest them without embarrassment or they can volunteer without wasting time.
  • Failure to have proposals or alternatives worked out beforehand often means that you waste time and get confused, or that you adopt the first suggestions without giving them full consideration.
  • Don’t try to achieve too much. Plan two to two and a half hours at the very most for your meetings.
  • Have people prepared to fill in for key people in important meetings in case of illness etc.
  • Make copies of the agenda available to participants or put a large copy on the wall that will be visible to everyone.