1 Million and 1 Reasons to Have Weekly Planning Meetings

Rebecca Richmond, Executive Directorplanning meetings meme

A look of horror is sometimes what I get when I give pro-life campus leaders a critical recommendation for improving their club – both in the sense of developing a larger club membership AND in terms of effectiveness on campus: weekly planning meetings. I can imagine what’s running through their minds:

“club planning meetings are long and exhausting and I don’t have any more time and everyone’s already overwhelmed and people forget about meetings and wouldn’t it be easier to do it all over email anyway and…this will never work.”

But hear me out: from personal experience and from years of experience with students nationally, I can tell you that they will actually make your life easier, not harder. And they work. And when there are 300 pre-born lives being destroyed through abortion daily, a weekly meeting doesn’t seem like that big of a sacrifice.

 But if you need some compelling reasons to convince your fellow club members of the need for weekly planning meetings, we’ve got you covered:

(1) Consistency Cuts Down on the Time You Spend Organizing Meetings:

 Does it sometimes seem like it takes eons to organize a meeting with your team members? And then half the people forget and don’t even show up? Weekly meetings helps cut down organizing time AND people are less likely to forget.

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The Amazing Doodle Tool!

Because, if you’re meeting at the same time and the same location every week, it becomes a regular part of their schedule, like a class or extracurricular activity. And it saves time because you don’t have to deal with massive email threads every couple weeks to figure out a meeting time/date! Depending on your school’s set-up, you might even be able to book that timeslot/location one time for the entire semester!

Organize the weekly meetings in advance by having the club secretary set-up a Doodle, the club exec members can fill in their availability according to their class schedule, and you can find the best time for the most amount of people. Then stick to that time/day/location for the rest of the semester!

* Extra tip: One student leader recommends texting members before the weekly meeting. It “reminds your members that they are important as you’re reaching out to them to check if they’re coming.”

(2) Delegating tasks is easier and tasks actually get done:

 It’s much much easier to divvy up tasks during a group discussion in-person, rather than over email. And consider when people (including yourself) actually do the tasks they were delegated – probably the day before, morning of, or 5 minutes before the meeting. So, if you’re meeting weekly, generally speaking, tasks are going to get done on a weekly basis at the very least. Planning, staying on top of your activities, and seeing your goals become realities depend on work getting done regularly (weekly!).

(3) More fun: 

Seriously. If you’re meeting weekly, your meetings are going to be shorter (in most cases, keep it under an hour!), less frustrating, and less overwhelming. Your weekly meeting should feel like a boost to your week as you reconnect with your team members, encourage one another in your pro-life mission (both in terms of your club activities and in your classes, among your friends, etc.), and feel a sense of accomplishment as you stay on track with your goals.

(4) It actually works:

In my own experience and in the experience of students we’ve worked with nationwide, weekly meetings actually work. Every time a club has started weekly meetings, good things happen. But don’t take my word for it, or the rest of the NCLN staff members’ word, or the word of other student leaders – just try it. Contact your NCLN Campus Coordinator with any questions you might have about running weekly meetings or even have us Skype in on some of your meetings for 10-20 minutes to help out with planning, give feedback, and answer questions!

(5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10…..a million…and 1) It’s worth it:

We’re all busy people, balancing school with part-time jobs, family, friends, and extra-curriculars. But if we know that 100,000 abortions are taking place in Canada each year, if we know that our age demographic is undergoing the most abortions in Canada, if we know that our universities matter in terms of building a true Culture of Life, then taking an hour each week to unite as a team and work on making a difference is not too much to ask.

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Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow

Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator

This summer, do yourself a favour: on a sunny day, go find a quiet place in a park or by a lake or ocean, take a notebook with you, and spend 30 min reflecting on this. I can guarantee the time you put into it now will benefit you ten times more in the long run!
become the kind
The following excerpts are taken from the article Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow. This article provides great insights into how we can grow as the leaders we are called to be. Reflect on the quotes and the questions to see where you can improve yourself so you can better lead others in sharing the pro-life message on your campus.

Leadership is an expression of your heart and soul. To become a leader, you need to know your higher purpose and believe in it passionately.

• What would you say your higher purpose is? Do you live a consistent life where your actions are in line with this purpose?
• Does your role in the pro-life club help you achieve this purpose?

Leaders need to feel comfortable in their own skin. It begins with the ability to explore and share one’s life story by helping people understand how we all mesh together for a meaningful journey. You intentionally begin to discover your authentic self by connecting with who you really are. Authentic leaders are not power driven but meaning driven people.

• What brings meaning to your life? How would you articulate this to others?
• How does your role in the pro-life club bring more meaning to your life?

As a leader you need to be fully committed to nurturing the well-being and commanding the trust of the people around you. Only in the context of a meaningful relationship can people feel empowered and inspired to demonstrate their greatest potential.

• Identify 2 students who you will meet up with for coffee this summer, taking the time to get to know them more so you can better work together in the pro-life club this upcoming year.
• What potential do you see in these students? Help them see how they can develop this by participating in the club.

The vision and direction of a team [is] about the ability of the leader to capture the big WHY in the hearts and minds of others. People rally behind a strong vision when they know WHY they doing what they doing.

• Why do you do what you do with the pro-life club? How do you articulate this to others?
• Do you truly believe in the vision of your club? “If you don’t get goose bumps telling others where our life is heading, your vision isn’t compelling enough to shape your behaviour.”* Is your vision compelling enough to inspire others to action?
As you start to look at the upcoming school year, keep these reflection points in mind. Are you approaching your leadership position in the pro-life club with the right heart? Are you the kind of person others want to follow?

*Mike Figliuolo in Let’s make leadership real again. Stanford, CA: Change This. (2012).
 

Be sure to talk to your Campus Coordinator about your leadership goals and plans! We’d love to work with you to help you achieve them!

 

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CAMPUS SPOTLIGHT: Trinity Western University Students for Life

 Building your Leadership Team 

Building a leadership team for your pro-life club can seem like a daunting task at first. The TWU Students for Life team has done a great job at developing a strong and active leadership  and we asked their outgoing club president, Joanna Krawczynski, to share some of her wisdom with you. 

And don’t forget that your NCLN staff members are here to help train and coach you as you lead your club! NCLN’s Western office, which happens to be located in Langley B.C. as well, has been able to work a lot with the club at TWU and it’s been exciting to see the fruits of that relationship.

Note: Trinity Western University is a Christian university, which changes the context in which the club operates. 

This post is part of a series that highlights the efforts, strategies and accomplishments of clubs across Canada. If there is something your club might like to share with the Pro-Life Student Movement of Canada, email kathleen@ncln.ca

 

As TWUSFL president, what part of your role excites you the most? 

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TWU Students for Life Club with Stephanie Gray

The team. I get to hang out with some of the most inspiring and talented people on campus.

What are your greatest challenges as a president? 

Self-confidence. It’s ironic that I would be my biggest challenge, but I’ve noticed that if I’m feeling down or fearful during a meeting, my team picks up on those feelings and reflects my discouragement. Discouragement, to say the least, is very counterproductive.

Your club meets on a weekly basis. What fruits have you seen from this commitment? 

Number one: commitment! Simply put, how things work at TWU, those who do not show up to meetings are not active on campus. Those who make the meetings are more easily roped into volunteering for things :). Also, delegation is a bit easier face-to-face. Another benefit to weekly meetings is the opportunity for team-building so that team members see each other not just as yoke-fellows but as friends: that’s the ideal. Further, weekly meetings serve to keep our focus clear, serving as a consistent reminder of who we are and what (or who) we stand for.

Again, this comes back to commitment: weekly meetings are a reminder that being pro-life doesn’t just happen once a year. If we want real change, we need pro-life work to be built into our regular schedules. For us, weekly meetings have also been a great opportunity to challenge, encourage, and refresh team members. It’s good to come together and realize – oh yeah, I’m not alone on the frontlines. 

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Joanna and Amanda running an outreach table at TWU

What does a club meeting agenda usually look like? 

  1. Welcome and prayer
  2. Checking in with team members on a personal level: this usually involves a creative activity, like a round of telephone pictionary to share weekend stories or having members choose a random office supply to describe how they are feeling. (~15 min.)
  3. Club updates or a brief discussion of relevant current events (~10 min.)
  4. Debrief of recent event, preparation for an upcoming event, or brainstorming of a new event (~20 min.)
  5. Flexible space for questions or comments: allowing team members to share ideas or concerns that they’ve been wrestling with (eg. Had a difficult conversation with a friend that didn’t go over very well – what could I have done?). (~10 min.)
  6. Closing activity/thought/video, if time permits, depending on what team members need most: if the team is feeling disillusioned, maybe a motivational quote is in order. If team members are getting caught up in school stresses, a gentle challenge by way of a video is helpful. (~5 min.)
  7. Sharing prayer requests and closing with prayer

 Also, food is always appreciated, at any point during the meeting – even little, relatively inexpensive snacks like a bag of oranges or chocolate-covered nuts, unless you’ve got allergies.

In what ways do you foster good relationships among your team members?

Probably first and foremost by setting an example of deep respect for others which sets the tone of the meeting. Also, some of my team members don’t see each other outside team meetings, so it is important to provide space in team meetings for genuine relationships to be built (eg. by establishing prayer partners). I’d also like to incorporate off-campus club events, such as a team brunch or dessert night, into our schedules: this would also facilitate relationship-building, as we can build friendships that are not dependent on weekly meetings.

If you could give one tip to other pro-life club presidents, what would it be?

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Joanna and pro-life activist, Linda Gibbons

Have the courage to be humble. One article explains that having true humility is not being trampled like an old rug: rather, being humble means being unafraid to share truth or to spend time with those who are not quite your type: you aren’t worried about souring your reputation. Being humble means to persevere, to keep on keeping on, even though you know you can’t save lives with only your own two arms. This can be frustrating, realizing that you can’t do it all yourself, but sometimes feeling very alone. 

But you are not doing this alone. You are part of a team: being courageously humble also means asking for help when you need help. Don’t let angry people extinguish your courage or the courage of your teammates. Invest in each member (eg. take time to write interesting emails, ask them how they’re doing, check in with them if you haven’t seen them for a while). Courage can be highly contagious. Use that to your advantage. And know that, over here at TWU, we’re praying for you and your teams. Stand firm!

Thank you, Joanna, for your genuine dedication to the pro-life movement and your investment in your club members at TWU. You are truly forming leaders by your own beautiful example of leadership! 

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