How To Ace Your Next Community Meeting ✅ [+Free Sample Agendas]

Learn how to ace your next community meeting using this simple guide: the true purpose of a community meeting, how to overcome challenges, and free sample meeting agenda templates.

The Meetingnotes Team
March 5, 2024

Community meetings represent the coming together of strangers to work on a communal project, whether that be a passion project in the local community, a university society, or a group of volunteers. No matter what form of community you’ve built, from time to time, you’re going to have to get everyone together for a meeting. 

Meetings act as a useful space for discussion, as their quick lines of communication make them great for telling lots of people ideas at once. But, community meetings, with the potentially large number of participants, can pose a bit of a problem.

In this article, we’ll be walking you through the following topics:

Let’s get started.

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What is a community meeting?

Unlike a business meeting, a community meeting is a publicly held forum, allowing anyone that’s a part of a larger organization or local group to join. These meeting types could be run by any number of people or organizations, including churches, schools, non-profits, and private clubs.

Quite simply, a community meeting provides a forum in which everyone can come together to share ideas, discuss the organization itself, and plan future events. If these meetings are completely public, they often take much longer than a business meeting would. Especially when directly chatting with the general public, you’ll be hearing a lot of different opinions that could last for quite some time.

Even so, community meetings are a vital space for those looking to organize a large number of people. Meetings are a unique way of information sharing, providing an accessible means of communication and consensus-building that anyone can tune into. 

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What challenges do community meetings commonly face?

Community meetings come with their own territory of difficulties. While other meeting formats normally have a structure that is repeated across the business, these require more forethought to make sure they are as effective as possible.

Due to the many different types of meetings that can fall under the umbrella of a community meeting, we’ll be outlining some general problems that are likely to arise:

  • Getting people to attend
  • Time limits and scheduling
  • Finding a room or location that works for everyone

Let’s break these down further.

Getting people to attend

Especially when running a community meeting for a public group, it’s difficult to ensure that everyone actually turns up to your meeting. There is nothing more frustrating than preparing a meeting agenda with a range of action items lined out, only for no one to actually show up. 

While community meetings are notoriously low on the attendance scale, there are a few tactics that you can incorporate to ensure that more people come. We suggest that you:

  • Run the meeting online: Statistics show that online meetings routinely have a better attendance rate than in-person ones. Considering that the people within your community may be busy with other things, only devoting a small portion of their time to this cause, making sure that there are as few barriers to attendance as possible is the key. Even if they’re at home, they’ll be able to log into your meeting space instantly, eliminating the inconvenience the meeting could cause to them. 
  • Publish your meeting agenda alongside the invite: 71% of all meetings are considered a waste of time by those that attend them. Due to facts like these, it’s suggested that you send the reasons that you’re calling a meeting out to the attendees. Within your community meeting agenda, you should include a range of agenda items that you intend to cover, ensuring that people can see the reason for you calling them together. If they believe there is a real reason for the meeting, they’ll be much more likely to come.
  • Send out meeting notes after it ends: Taking meeting notes under each action item will show everyone that receives the meeting notes exactly what you covered. Once they see that your meeting agenda was followed closely, they’ll realize that you’re not trying to waste anyone’s time. Showing that your discussions are swift, effective, and useful towards the progress of a certain project will demonstrate to everyone that these meetings are worth attending. If you send out notes on a regular basis, it will also show those that simply couldn’t make the meeting what they missed, keeping them in the loop.

When you follow these three tips, it will become much easier for your attendees to access your meeting discussion. Especially if the topic you’re going to be talking about is particularly important, it’s a good idea to do everything you can to make sure that people attend.

One of the most important parts of running meetings effectively is ensuring that your team members are comfortable. To do this, send out invites well in advance, attach an agenda to let them know what’s going on, and follow up with meeting notes to wrap up everything nicely.


Time limits and scheduling

When running a community project, whether that be an after-school meeting, a book club, or one of several committee meetings, you’ll have a lot of different schedules to think about. Because everyone works at different companies and has different working hours, you might struggle to find a time in which everyone is free.

To mitigate confusion, you should send out potential time slots beforehand, with an announcement that as many people as possible should respond. Doing this via an electronic poll system will ensure that you can pick the date when most people are free. Although it would be great to have everyone attend, the simple fact is that conflicting agendas could make this impossible. 

Planning your event for the hour of the week where most people are free will help increase the number of participants that can be of attendance. 

Finding a location that works for everyone

While some communities will have a town hall where everyone can gather, many don’t. Especially if your community is based across larger distances, finding a middle ground location may be more difficult than you first thought.

To overcome this, we heavily recommend moving your next meeting online. Without the commute that all of your community members have to make, it’ll be much easier for everyone to attend. Additionally, with the online tools that send agendas and attach meeting notes like Hugo, you’ll be able to run your meeting effectively without the hassle.

If you haven’t already, fire up the PC, send out your invites, and move your community meeting online. 

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Community meeting agenda template

A community meeting agenda template should be complex enough that all the points you’re going to cover are written down, but not so complex that users take one look and say, “Well, I’m not reading that.”

To keep it simple, we’ve split this community meeting agenda into 4 steps:

  • Introduce: Introduce meeting participants, meeting leader, and the purpose of your meeting.
  • Issues: Identify the problems you’re trying to solve, and why they’re issues for the community meeting participants. Then transition into a brainstorming session to solve them.
  • Ideas: From this brainstorming session, identify the best ideas and outline them in more detail. 
  • Items: Make those ideas into action items that can be taken forward out of the meeting and onwards.

These four Is — Introduce, Issues, Ideas, Items — will give you a rough structure that you can build upon. By including these four facets, everyone attending the meeting will know exactly why they’re there. 

If you’re seeking ideas, use the power of community to generate them, brainstorming as a group. Although this can take some time, the number of people you’re dealing with can also act as a benefit, as you’ll have more people thinking of solutions.

Any meeting, whether business or community, should end with action items. These will give everyone a clear understanding of exactly what they’ll be doing going forward, demonstrating how this meeting has been useful in overcoming a particular issue.

Additional meeting agenda templates

If you don’t love the style of this community meeting agenda, take a browse through our 80+ free meeting templates. Although these are mostly for team meetings agenda templates, you’ll be able to take inspiration from them and pull an agenda item from here and there to customize a final meeting agenda template that you love.

You’ll be able to move through different categories until you find a simple agenda that works for you. With a few edits, these can easily become the perfect meeting agendas for your community meetings, no matter what organization you’re scheduling for. 

By following the tips in this article, you’ll be well on your way to hosting a fantastic community meeting for your organization.

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