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Suggested Meeting Formats and Agendas
Suggested Meeting Formats and Agendas

A meeting agenda is an important tool for the smooth running of a community. It should be distributed to each meeting attendee and followed in similar fashion each meeting. A good and predictable agenda will allow you to accomplish your community's goals and present a professional appearance; important for members, prospective clients, and prospective students of alike.

Meeting agendas will vary from community to community for various reasons. Community size, community organization, location, and meeting type (virtual vs. live) to name a few. In addition, if a community has elected to formally incorporate, i.e., as a non-profit, most states will require that certain reports be made with each meeting and recorded for the record. There is an agenda format to fit every type of community so feel free to consult with other communities to find out what might work for you.

Meeting Length

Generally, 2 hours is considered ideal. Virtual communities seem to work best with a 1 hour format. And, it is important to stick to your agreed-to length. I suggest that in your announcement/invitation you allow 30 minutes up front to welcome newcomers, the media, potential students and prospective clients. A short welcome followed by an open floor for questions allows for a full 1 1/2 hour meeting that, after all, is for the benefit of community members.

Up front, it is a good idea to announce that materials for newcomers will be available at the conclusion of the full meeting. It is best not to hand out materials beforehand as it tends to distract from the meeting. Hint: If a media representative is present have a plan. Your knowledge of media relations and our profession can make or break the impression you make. I recommend you check the ICF PR reference materials at

Along with meeting agenda preparation ensure that the refreshments are available. Whether at the back of the room or at the table, depending on your setup, refreshments allow for a comfortable atmosphere.

1. Welcome
  • Encourage newcomers to sit up front. Make them comfortable.
  • Introduce yourself and your co-host.
  • Announce any guests, new students, the media, as appropriate. Invite them to stand and introduce themselves.
  • General statement of purpose. It is always a good idea to remind ourselves that we are here for community and professional skills advancement. For the benefit of newcomers it helps to elaborate by saying that we achieve this through the use of role plays, hot seat coaching, discussion of class materials, and guest speakers AND that sharing and interaction are encouraged. This explanation is for our own benefit and gives the newcomer a "heads up" as to where the meeting is going and when it will end.
2. Review/Approval of Minutes
  • Keeping meeting minutes is critical. Whether small, live, virtual, huge or formal, good minutes give the community continuity and forward motion.
3. Treasurers Report
  • This piece can be as formal as you deem necessary. It will be required for a formally incorporated community. For most communities this can be a reminder for everyone to "pitch in" for refreshments or to not forget to sign up and pay for next month's dinner.
4. Committee Reports
  • This is a place for committee chairs to report on the their committees's status on various projects or programs. For example:
    • Live Event Committee
    • Media Relations/PR Committee
    • Annual Dinner Committee
  • Again, this wholly depends on the nature of your community.
5. Old Business
  • This is where the keeping of detailed minutes is important. Were there decisions made at last month's meeting that required action?
6. New Business
  • Are there projects, preparations in process for future activities?
  • Are there community needs to be addressed?
  • Does a member have an idea for a community program or project?

Time allotted for numbers 1-5 should be kept to no more than 20 minutes. If more time is needed then it might be a good idea to schedule a separate business meeting.

7. Professional Skills Development
  • This should be the core of your meeting. It is best to make this as interactive as possible. If a speaker is scheduled, do your best to allow time for interaction at the end of the presentation. Otherwise, use role playing, hot seat coaching, discussion around Top Tens (available at Allow about 1 hour for this portion of your meeting. And, plan, plan, plan. Create your topics well ahead of your meeting. Plan the role play, plan the hot seat, plan the discussion.
8. Adjourn
  • Take this time to recap your meeting and to thank everyone for their participation.
  • Remind everyone of the time and place of your next meeting.
  • Thank newcomers for their attendance and invite them to take a copy of Becoming a Coach if they wish.
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