Plan Agendas

Martha McCormickSocial JusticeLeave a Comment

Iowa Outdoor Youth Summit

Meeting Agenda Card Sort is a tool for involving your group in setting an agenda for regular meetings. It starts with collecting ideas from all the members, and then provides an easy way to put the ideas in order and develop a timeframe.

Groups benefit from having a standard agenda so that members know what to expect and are prepared. Young people especially need the structure and stability that a set agenda provides. With this method, though, you can use the cards later in the year to fine tune the agenda.

You will need markers and 3 X 5 index cards.

In the large group, brainstorm items that could be part of a meeting. These may include–

  • compliments & appreciations
  • getting organized
  • setting up
  • cleaning up
  • attendance
  • arrival activity
  • pre-meeting activity
  • games
  • snack
  • chores
  • welcome guests
  • introduce guests
  • news & goods, highs & lows
  • introductions
  • program
  • processing
  • field trip
  • problem solving
  • circle
  • committee reports
  • games & recreation
  • dancing
  • arts & crafts
  • discussion/business

As each idea is shared, have someone write it on an index card. You may have some essentials on note cards before the activity, just in case they are left out, but keep the discussion open to all ideas.

Once the group is done brainstorming (usually not more than 10 minutes), use a method such as a line-up (by birthday, height, shoe size) and cut the group into chunks. You can also use zodiac signs or birth months to divide into smaller groups. Groups of seven or less can more easily come to consensus.

Give each small group a stack of index cards from the discussion. Then have each small group stack the cards in the order of what should be part of every meeting to what needs to be discussed only once a year. They don’t have to use all to the cards.

Next each small group shares their order with the large group. Once each group has shared, work as one large group to organize the cards into an agenda that will provide structure to the group for the year or a quarter of the year. Use group meetings to refine this structure over the course of the year.

Jeff Macomber and I developed the Meeting Agenda Card Sort as part of an Involving Youth in Decision Making. I used it last year at Brody when I was helping out.

Beth Mensing offers this variation–“I wrote up 3 or 4 sets of cards with items already on them, we talked through the items as a large group. I could have given them blank cards if there was something that was missing. They were color coded so I could easily pull them out to complete sets again. Then we had each small group create an agenda order, and we tried different agenda orders over the next few weeks. It was pretty interesting. They definitely decided that some agendas just don’t work well for them.”

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