Early in the process of setting up a co-op, meetings provide a group the chance to openly discuss ideas and explore them together. Hosting a meeting can be a daunting task, but these meetings are key to a successful co-op. Below is some advice on how to set up a meeting.
Before organizing a public event it’s good to meet with a few business leaders to discuss your idea. Chat with business and economic development people. They will help vet the idea and provide valuable input before you present it to others. Once you’re prepared to host the meeting, here’s some important steps to take to engage an audience:
Advertising doesn’t need to be expensive, but it does need to be targeted. Think about where your audience is and the most effective ways to reach them. Create a brief plan, include a budget, inventory your available assets (such as posters, people and social channels) contact key partners, and then get started. Email and a phone are your best friends. Call relevant partners. Ask for their help. Social media also provides great platforms for this type of event, and social can be cost-effective and highly targeted. Don’t forget traditional media: relevant trade magazines, newspapers, and publishers can help reach an audience and increase legitimacy. Invite them to tell your story.
If you need space to host the meeting, consider partnering with a municipality or community group. They may be able to help you avoid the cost of renting a hall. Libraries, legions, schools, and community halls often offer inexpensive options as well. Provide refreshments. While the refreshments don’t need to be fancy, they show you value people’s time and want them to be comfortable.
Meetings always run better when they have a little structure. Develop a simple agenda to guide the conversation. Determine who is leading the meeting and have someone take minutes. Stick to the mission of the meeting. Allow time for questions and open discussion.
Advertising often isn’t enough to get people to an event. Make calls to local community leaders or people that might be interested in participating. Mention the event at other functions and in passing.
To foster good conversation, set up the room in a way that encourages interaction and participation. When setting up, consider the following:
Getting the ball rolling at a meeting can be a daunting task and people may be hesitant to speak up without being prompted. A simple, tested method is to ask people to share their name and why they decided to attend the meeting. Get a sense of attendees’ thoughts and opinions about the opportunity being discussed. For example: “Please share your name and what it is about this event that interests you.”
When discussing opportunities for co-operative development, it helps to ensure everyone is on the same page and knows what exactly is being discussed. This alignment will help manage expectations and clarify roles and possibilities later. Potential questions include:
Once the opportunity has been clearly identified and people understand how they can work on a solution, discuss what kind of business could efficiently deliver this service:
If the group agrees that a co-operative is appropriate, discuss next steps. A clear plan will help keep momentum moving forward:
This checklist may be helpful when organizing a meeting and can act as a guide:
|Purpose for the meeting is determined|
|A date and time has been selected for the event|
|Agenda for the event is created|
|A meeting place has been reserved for the event|
|Organizers have contacted people in their network|
|Posters have been designed and approved|
|Posters are distributed in community spaces and social media|
|Catering has been confirmed|
|Outline a general pathway forward (if there is one)|
|Concerns or barriers noted by attendees|
|Number of people interested in getting involved|
|General level of engagement|
|Number of people that attended|