Dear Chapter Development: Exploring New Ideas for Chapter Meetings This Semester

Dear Chapter Development 1
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“Dear Chapter Development” is a new Progressions series modeled after the famous “Dear Abby” advice column. The vice president of Chapter development will answer the most common questions from Chapter presidents and leaders. This is the first article in the series.

Dear Chapter Development,
I need new ideas for Chapter meetings and events. Do you have any?

Every PRSSA Chapter is different, but one activity remains universal: meetings. Whether monthly or weekly, with 150 members or 15 members — meetings are where we connect face-to-face with other members. So I can understand why this question comes up a lot. No really, it comes up A LOT. It served as the third question in this 2011 PRSSA Twitter chat and the fourth in this 2013 PRSSA Twitter chat. Meetings are important to plan effectively and creatively.

Many Chapters have covered the basics and want to try new, different material. Here are my suggestions:

1. Don’t do a meeting.
Replace it with something completely different. For example, host an etiquette dinner, networking night or go on an agency tour. It’s still relevant to the purpose of the Society, and you can still cover industry and PRSSA news.

2. Turn a lecture-based meeting into a workshop.
Do you have a speaker coming to talk about interview and résumé tips? Bring in a few extra experts and encourage your Chapter members to bring their résumés and wear business casual attire. Set them in groups for a closer connection and discussion about each specific résumé. Pro tip: Add free coffee and goodies and call it a “résumé café”!

3. Make it social.
Digitally social: Create a Chapter hashtag and live tweet during the meeting. It’s a great way for Chapter members to connect, and it’s a great way to gauge the members’ interest in a topic.

Face-to-face social: Have a “bring a friend” meeting and spotlight newcomers. Add icebreakers into the meeting so members can get to know each other. Pro tip: Add ice cream and call it an “ice cream breaker.” You can also join forces with another student organization, or plan a social outing after the meeting.

Most importantly, do what’s best for your Chapter and always ask for feedback from members to evaluate what is working.

Paige Weber is the vice president of Chapter development and a recent graduate from Louisiana State University. Follow her on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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