Running an Amnesty International meeting isn’t easy. If you don’t do it well, then members aren’t going to stick around because things will seem too disorganized. If you only interact with a few select people, then new members will be discouraged from attending and joining because the group will seem more like a clique then an activist organization. Here’s how to run an Amnesty International meeting that will keep things together and keep people coming back:
- Create an Agenda – Of course, you’re not going to be running much of anything if you don’t have an agenda. Prior to the meeting, make a quick outline of what you want to cover and what needs to happen during the meeting. For example, if you need to take some time to plan an event during your meeting, then you want to put that on the agenda as well as the desired outcome. If you need to recruit volunteers, to pick a date, to pick a theme etc. then make sure that’s accomplished. With your meetings, you want to get something done, versus just talking about different things.
- Stay on Track – Especially if you have a small group or your chapter is starting off with tight group of people, then it can be very easy to get sidetracked talking about things unrelated to human rights. Obviously, this ends up wasting time and making it harder to get things done. If you’re running the meeting, then it’s your responsibility to keep the meeting on track and according to the agenda. If things get sidetracked, then you need to step up, stop the discussion, and pull the conversation back in the right direction. Of course, all those other things can be talked about once the important things are done.
- Be Mindful of the Time – If you told everyone that it was going to be a one-hour meeting, then it’s best that you hold to that time. Since Amnesty International is something that people are doing on top of work, on top of family, and maybe even on top of school as well, then you need to stick to the schedule. This goes with what’s on the agenda, how long it is, and how much time you spend on each item. This also goes with staying on track, as getting sidetracked might mean that people will be leaving before anything gets done. Of course, you don’t want to time everything and be a stickler, but you also want to respect the fact that your members are very busy people who can easily spend their time elsewhere. Be mindful of the time and meeting will be a worthwhile hour, or 90 minutes, or however long for everyone.
- Encourage Participation – Running these meetings is only going to be stressful and boring if you set the expectation that you’re doing to have all the ideas and that you’re the one that’s going to be doing everything and making all the decisions. To ease the stress and break the boredom, encourage others to participate by asking for ideas and suggestions, or by having other members run the meeting from time to time. This is something our chapter does when our group leader can’t make our monthly business meeting. Another thing we do to encourage participation is to have members present on a human rights topics. This way, all the responsibility isn’t on one person, and we show that we value the time and expertise of our members by giving them a chance to share it.
Do you have any tips or tricks for running Amnesty International meetings? What types of things do you do during your meetings? Let us know in the comments!