We all believe that our community is very important to our well-being. If our community is not healthy, it will affect us a great deal. And if our community is in chaos, we will not be at peace with one another. In our various communities, we have people from diverse nationalities. We have Americans, Africans, Asians, Hispanics, Latinos and Europeans. Every individual has their own peculiar culture. People have their different ideas and belief system, too.
In the last few months, we have witnessed lots of killing in our communities. These killings happen in our streets, in our clubs, in our homes and even in our churches. If we just fold our arms and do not attend to this problem, it might destroy our community. And it is as a result of situations like this that necessitates community meetings.
A community meeting is a gathering where people living in a locality come together to discuss issues affecting the community. The essence of some of the meetings is to come up with brilliant ideas, deliberate on them, and reach a conclusion. Some meetings could be about the security of the community. And some could be about helping the youths. No matter the objective of a community meeting, some guidelines ought to be followed to ensure you achieve your aim of planning the meeting. Here are some quick tips to organizing a community meeting:
Plan Early: If you are thinking of holding a town meeting, you need to start planning your meeting a few weeks, perhaps a month, to the meeting. A community is large, and a lot of preparation goes into making sure the meeting is a success. You need to get your venue that can hold at least 75% of people in the community. You need to think about why you are planning the event. In other words, you need to think about your agenda and how to pass across your information.
Make Announcements: To get adequate representation of all the people in the community, you need to publicize. You cannot give a three days’ notice to the entire community and expect them all to be in attendance. A lot of people have engagements they fix weeks ahead. Use flyers to announce your meeting. Paste the notice of the gathering in strategic places where people will easily see it.
Set up a Planning Committee: Yes, a community meeting is meant to be by the community and for the community. However, you should set up a planning committee. These people should be respectable and honest people. They should have integrity. The planning committee would be in charge of finances or getting the word out about the meeting. There could be sub-committees who would be in charge of specific duties and tasks.
Know Your Goals: Time is very precious to everyone. Nobody would be willing to attend a meeting that does not have specific goals mere glancing at the agenda. It would seem like a waste of time. It is crucial to know what you are trying to achieve. A goal you might have in mind is “to discuss the security measures already in existence and to brainstorm ideas on how to make it more efficient.” This goal has to reflect in your agenda to get people’s attention.
Draft Your Agenda: Your agenda is the most important thing in organizing a community meeting. If people have decided to show up at the gathering, it is because they have an opinion about the topic. They care about the subject of discussion. It will be quite irritating and annoying to set aside time to attend and have to sit through a lot of unrelated arguments and conversations. Such action will not get people to attend a community meeting another time. Preparing your agenda is quite easy. You should consider the purpose of the meeting, the expected members that will be in attendance and your speakers. Don’t forget to include the introduction of the chairperson or facilitator of the meeting and the aims of the meeting.
Propose Incentives: An incentive is something or someone that influences an individual to act a particular way. If the venue of the meeting is quite far, some people might not be willing to attend. However, if you offer an incentive like a bus coming to pick them up and drop them back home, it might incite more people to participate in the meeting. The bus is, therefore, an incentive.
Get a Chairperson/Facilitator: Ordinarily, if you are the person that called the meeting, you are supposed to be the chairperson. However, if the meeting will be a large one and you are not confident enough to handle this role, do not hesitate in asking someone else in chairing the meeting. The role of a chairperson is crucial. They help to maintain order and peace.
Invite Your Community Members: There is no community meeting without the members that make up the society. In organizing your meeting, you need to include everybody in the community. Invite the youths, the adults, and the elderly. Invite bankers, doctors, engineers, accountants, and even the farmers. This way, you know every category of people is in attendance or has someone there that represents them. If everyone in a distinct group cannot attend, they can send a representative.
Review and Take Minutes of Meeting: The minutes of the meeting usually circulates after the meeting to interested persons. It is a detailed analysis of all deliberations in a meeting. If you have held a community meeting before, you need to review the minutes of the last gathering and adopt it. On the other hand, if this is your first town meeting, you need to think about who will take the minutes of your meeting. The document will enable you and everyone in the society know the deliberations and action plan.
The truth is that organizing a community meeting can be tiring, especially if it will be a large meeting. If you follow these tips, we assure you of minimal stress. Remember that Rome was not build in a day. It takes a lot of practice, patience and persistence to organize a great community meeting. So, take a deep breath. Planning a community meeting is easier than you think.