Running a Successful Informational Meeting

Leading up to your meeting

GET SIGN-UPS FIRST

By this point, you and your YAL chapter officers have already set up your table on campus and worked hard to sign up students to join your YAL chapter. You've made good use of the recruitment materials and training you received from YAL. Now what? The next step is for you to follow up with each of your sign ups and get them out to your first meeting of the semester. Show prospective members just what YAL is all about, and get them involved!

Find and confirm a meeting location (bigger isn't always better)

Check your university's calendar, and set a date and time that does not conflict with any major campus-wide event.

When choosing a location, consider the size of the audience you expect and access to IT equipment you may want to use. If at all possible, host your meeting in a well-known, easily-accessible classroom building on campus. When picking your room, identify one that fits your attendance goal, but make sure that it will not be too large (it's better to have a smaller classroom that ends up being packed with students than one that ends up looking empty even if you hit your attendance goal). The goal is to get recruits and members pumped about being involved with your chapter. A smaller room also encourages people to engage in conversation more easily before you start the meeting.

fein4         CMU

They won't show if they don't know: Follow up!

Send a follow-up email shortly after recruits sign up to thank them for their interest in your chapter and to give them the next steps they should take. Include the information for your first (or next) meeting, and use active language to get them excited about attending. After you've sent your first email, call each sign up and ask them if they can attend -- students are far more likely to commit to attending your meeting if you personally ask them to do so. If you're nervous about calling students, follow a template like this until you get more comfortable with it:

You: "Hi, Jane, this is [your name] with Young Americans for Liberty. Do you remember chatting with me at our table in the library the other day?"

Recruit: "Yes, I do. How are you doing?"

You: "I'm doing great! In fact, I wanted to invite you to our kick-off meeting for the semester. We'll be discussing [X], [Y], and [Z] -- our upcoming events and plans for the semester. It will be at [time] on [day] at [place]. Can you make it?"

Recruit: "Yes, I suppose I could make it out."

You: "Great! I'll send a follow-up email, too, with all of the details in case you forget. See you then!"

Preparing

Your informational meeting should cover several items, and so it is critical to prepare and organize beforehand. You also want to make your first meeting fun for attendees. Remember, your first meeting is your YAL chapter's first impression on your new recruits, and in order to get them to come back, you'll need to make sure their experience is productive, fun, and engaging.

Meet with your leadership

Before your official meeting, meet with your current leadership to go over the plans and responsibilities that everyone has for the event. Make sure whoever is in charge of recruitment has sufficiently followed up with sign-ups. Plan to send one more email the day before the meeting and a text the day of your meeting as a final reminder.

Develop your meeting agenda (content is king)

Although you want to be sure to allow for time for conversation and getting to know your new members, there are important points that you'll want to cover to get attendees excited about getting involved. Use this Introduction to YAL Presentation as a starting point, and edit it with your own chapter's information. (Be sure to click "File, Make a copy" so that you can edit your own version.)

However you deliver the presentation, you'll want to incorporate each of these in your own unique way:

  • What is liberty?
  • What is YAL?
  • Our plans for the semester: Activism events, trip to State Conventions, Socials, etc.
  • Available leadership positions

Check out the editable line-item agenda and activism calendar to distribute at your meetings, listed at the bottom of this page.

Practice makes perfect: Do a "dry run"

Practice your presentation and the flow of the meeting -- your goal is for everything to run smoothly and to have everyone out of there in 30-45 minutes.

Gather all meeting materials

  • “Young Americans for Liberty” sign to place on the front door (makes the room easy to find and adds credibility)
  • Name tags for each attendeeSwag table
  • Sign-in forms to collect attendees' names, email addresses andtheir phone numbers for future follow ups
  • IT equipment and laptop (if needed) for an "Intro to YAL" presentation[download here]
  • YAL promotional materials and swag (flyers, palm cards, bottle openers, and more)
  • Snacks and drinks

The Meeting

Cover your bases: Arrive early to avoid embarrassing mishaps

Be sure to go over your checklist when you arrive:

  • Sign-in table set up; name tags ready for all attendees
  • Table set up with snacks and drinks
  • Dry run of Intro to YAL presentation complete; AV equipment checked
  • YAL sign on the door for attendees; YAL banner hung up in room

Welcome all attendees

signing up

Always greet all attendees, start conversations between them, and answer their questions -- it's vital everyone feels comfortable. There will be attendees who show up to the informational meeting alone in an attempt to find an organization of their interest where they feel welcomed and connected with others. Make a serious effort to meet and get to know every attendee. Tell your existing members this, too, before your kick-off meeting so they follow your example and provide a welcoming atmosphere for new attendees.

Your presentation

When starting your presentation, introduce yourself to the audience and tell them a bit about why you are bringing YAL to campus. Next, start a brief ice breaker to make attendees feel welcome and a part of the organization already. Your icebreaker will vary with the size of the turnout. For smaller groups, you can go around the room having each attendee introduce themselves and share something about themselves and what policy issues they are most interested in. You might also have everyone answer a simple question like "What brought you here, tonight?"

Don't be the only one talking

No one is interested in coming to a meeting just to hear one person talk for the whole time. In order to increase the camaraderie in the room, get others talking (but keep the meeting running smoothly and on time). Doing a short icebreaker at the beginning of the meeting is a good start. You might also want to add a discussion question or two in your introduction to liberty presentation. Asking someone something like "Why is liberty important to you?" or "What freedoms do you think are under attack today?" can get attendees identifying with liberty from the start.

Promote your next activity or event

After the presentation is over, remind your attendees of when your next meeting or event will be. Be prepared to stick around for awhile and finish meeting all attendees. Encourage people to stick around and socialize. Consider hosting a social after the meeting to allow free discussion and a more comfortable atmosphere. Whatever you choose to do, just remember that no matter how great the presentation is or how much the attendee agrees with YAL and its mission, if they don’t feel welcomed or comfortable they will not return as members.

Liberty isn't just a set of ideas; it's a culture, so start building your chapter's culture at your first meeting. You've already showed that YAL is full of friendly libertarians, but now you need to make libertarian friends.

After the Meeting

Follow up with attendees by sending out an email thanking them for showing interest in YAL, encouraging them to join your chapter’s Facebook group, reminding them to visit www.yaliberty.org in order to become a national member, and making sure they know how to make it to your next meeting.

Do not stop outreach efforts by only sending out an email. Make sure to also use the sign-in list to locate the attendees on Facebook and invite them to like your chapter’s page directly. If you have a Facebook "group" for your members as well, add your new recruits to it to get them in communication with current members.

Recruitment is an ongoing, never-ending process

Hopefully your meeting was a smashing success. But even if you exceeded or fell short of your recruitment goals, there's always more people to introduce liberty too and strengthen your chapter. Use these recommendations to host successful meetings each week, bringing more people out to each one.

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