First Meeting Tips - Community Engagement - Minnesota Dept. of Health

The First Meeting

Are you unsure what to say at the first meeting? Ask yourself: "What would I want to know at a first meeting?"

Issues to Decide at Early Meetings

  • Choose a facilitator
  • Determine the decision-making process
  • Decide on an organizational structure
  • Decide on meeting dates
  • Decide on a purpose; i.e., agree upon a mission statement
  • Agree upon the goals of the coalition/group/task force
  • Agree upon objectives of the coalition/group/task force
  • Decide, if appropriate, upon a logo

At the First Meeting

  • Ask a person who is good at leading a group, can facilitate group discussion and encourage participation, and can stimulate the group to action, to serve as temporary chairperson
  • Have the room organized in advance for the meeting-chairs, descriptive information, flip charts, etc.
  • Encourage discussion and participation, but keep the meeting moving through the agenda; ask everyone to list name, affiliation, phone number, address, and primary interests
  • Review the facts about the problem in the community
  • Have a guest speaker explain the problem and need for action
  • Outline what the organizing group needs to do during the coming months
  • Make specific assignments to group participants
  • Ask people to suggest names of others who can contribute to the group's activities
  • Have an informal refreshment period where people can get to know each other
  • Be sure to send everyone copies of the meeting's minutes

Remember to incorporate short, fun activities for the meetings that help members get to know one another. These may be as simple as a two-minute description of a member's accomplishments since the last meeting. Or, have the group break into twosomes. Have each pair interview each other and, after the interview, introduce each other to the group.

Adapted From: Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies