Chapter Building Strategy: Effective Recruitment, Part 4

The Informational Meeting

This is where all of your hard work potentially pays off.  You grabbed someone’s attention.  You engaged them at your table.  And now they’re sitting five rows back at your chapter’s meeting.

Will they take interest in your group and become a consistently active member?  This is the measure of the success in your recruitment efforts.

It’s essential for you to have a well-executed and organized first meeting if you plan to make a good first impression and sustain membership growth.  You have only 30 to 60 minutes (the optimal target is 45 minutes for a meeting length) to make your case, so how do you make the most of it?

Organize and Prepare

First, be organized and look professional.  Arrive to the meeting place at least 15 to 30 minutes ahead of time to make certain that the room is unlocked and multimedia equipment is functioning properly before people arrive.

PowerPoint Presentation

It is preferable to give a PowerPoint presentation which will keep the discussion focused.  This will also force you to prepare beforehand.  This method also allows the use of other digital media resources such as photos, videos, and demonstrations of internet tools.

Set a Good Location

Make sure your meeting room is recognizable.  Set up your table just outside or near a major entrance to direct people to the room.  You don’t want to lose a potential recruit just because they can’t find your meeting.

Bring Your Chapter’s Materials

Even if you already distributed materials at your table, such as a calendar, make them available at the meeting, too.

Maintain Order

During the meeting, maintain a good level of control over the discourse and direction of what may be discussed.  Depending on the number of people, you can easily get carried off topic and waste other member’s time.  Stay on task and make sure you accomplish everything you intend before moving to unscheduled topics.

Mix Up the Speakers

Allow different members of the leadership to discuss different sections of a meeting, this provides some variety in speaking styles and serves to introduce new members to the leadership.

The actual content of an information meeting should be focused and specific.  You will want to discuss what you believe and what you plan to do about it.

What You Believe

The “what we believe” section of the information meeting can be approached in several ways.  There have already been many presentations prepared explaining the philosophy of liberty.  Many of these are available in YAL’s resources section and other places online.

YAL staff have created a South Park-themed philosophy of liberty presentation, which humorously covers this very topic.

Be sure to think ahead about what approach will be the most palatable to your anticipated audience.  Regardless of how you approach the topic, make certain someone with good rhetorical skills confidently, clearly, and concisely delivers the presentation.  Because the political message of YAL is not mainstream or commonly discussed, avoid as much confusion about the ideas of liberty as possible.

What You Plan to Do About It

The “what you plan to do about it” part of the presentation should come next.  First, explain the structure of your own group, introducing leaders if you have not already done so.  Explain the history of YAL national and the history of your own YAL chapter.

Next, and most important, explain to potential new recruits:

  • your immediate goals
  • your plans for activities during the semester
  • what activities and leadership positions are available to engage in

Have copies of your calendar available as an illustration.  This is where your group can solidify the participation of your members.  Give them somewhere meaningful to plug in so they have a reason to come back.

Some members may be content just to come to meetings, but many will find other things to engage their time if you don’t.

Come to the meeting ready with activism ideas in which new members can immediately join.  Have a variety of events from education to activism to social interaction for members to engage in.  Don’t expect everyone to do something, but this will begin to create an environment of community within the chapter which will solidify its presence.

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