The first meeting of the class reunion planning committee will likely be the longest of all.
Breaking the ice and encouraging conversation amongst people that have not spoken in a decade can be challenging.
The goal of the first meeting should be to catch up, set the agenda for the planning committee, and assign some initial responsibilities.
Let’s start by going over some common questions that most organizers have
What should I have ready before the first class reunion meeting?
The most important decision you’ll make at your first meeting will be the date of the class reunion. Before the meeting, try to select two or three potential dates for the committee to consider. These dates should be based on input from the alumni office as they may only allow class reunions on certain weekends.
Most schools prefer hosting class reunions during early summer or early fall. May through October are a popular time to host one as most schools are out and it is easier for classmates with families to travel.Read “How To Select The Date, Location, And Type Of Class Reunion”
Another area that you can research is themes. Ask the alumni office what kinds of themes have had success at other class reunions. Also, just Google the term “Class Reunion Themes” and you’ll get dozens of ideas.
Themes are important because they help provide a common thread between your invites, printed materials, and class reunion website. They also provide your reunion planning committee a line of thought they can incorporate into activities, and events.To learn more, read “Class Reunion Themes: Tips And Ideas”
Narrow your choice of themes to three or four and be ready to present the choices at your first or second meeting.
Where should your first class reunion meeting be held?
You can hold the meeting any place you like but the most common ones are at a classmates house, a local restaurant or at the school itself.
In many cases, the alumni office will even participate in the first planning meeting to introduce their services and to provide advice.
With online software like Google Hangout (Free), GoToMeeting.com etc., it is possible to have an entire planning meeting online. While this sounds efficient, it seems to defeat the purpose of meeting with your classmates. In every reunion that we have planned, the best part was the planning itself. Lifelong friendships are built based on the collaboration during these meetings and we can’t imagine having this kind of interaction through a computer screen.
How often should you hold these meetings?
Most class reunions will meet monthly, provided that they start early. If the class reunion is less than six months away, then planning meetings should be more frequent in order to get everything done.
The meetings should be an hour to two hours long at the most. Beyond that, and most people’s attention span starts to waver. And if you don’t want to them to waver, then you should use some of the tips below.
Tips For Class Reunion Planning Meetings
Assign Committee Responsibilities Before The Meeting
Before planning your first meeting, it is best to decide who will be responsible for what committee. Call each member on the planning committee individually to find their strengths and suggest what you think they would be good at.
Your decision should be based on their abilities, experience, and the amount of time they can volunteer. (Read: Tips On Putting Together A Class Reunion Planning Committee)
For instance if you have someone that’s good at negotiating and lives near the school, assign them the hotel selection committee. They can be responsible for getting group hotel rates, conducting site tours and negotiating amenities.
Catch Up First, Plan Later
Your first meeting brings together a bunch of people that have not seen each other in years, maybe even since graduation. Expect people to be nervous and uncomfortable initially.
Instead of going right into planning, break the ice by getting people to interact with each other. Bring a copy of the yearbook to pass around, share old pictures of teachers, students, and the school itself. Take newspaper clippings of major events around town to rekindle some memories of a yesterday that many people forgot.
Once people start talking, don’t defuse the light by asking everyone to stay on schedule. Let people get to know each other, share memories of teachers and events, and just reminisce in general. Encourage discussion about things like cafeteria food, old flames etc.
The initial meeting should be less about planning and more about getting acquainted so don’t take it too seriously. If you have started planning far enough ahead, you will have plenty of time to get everything done in an organized way.
Keep Things On Track With An Agenda
While the first meeting is all about catching up, it should also have some initial brainstorming. Prepare a Class Reunion Meeting Agenda with a list of topics and goals. The agenda should set the expectations for the entire team with detailed information on what has to be accomplished during the meeting.
In your first meeting, topics that should be discussed are:
- Setting the date and location of the class reunion
- Assign individual responsibilities to each committee head
- Discuss cost per person
- Discuss what the finance committee needs to create a preliminary class reunion budget
- Discuss ways to increase attendance
- Estimate potential attendees so everyone working on a budget has a number to base expenses on
- Set the next meeting date and define what will be followed up on.
Subsequent meetings should also have a prepared agenda to keep the meeting on track. Planning these provides direction and forces people to focus on the topics on hand.
In order to facilitate follow-up, have one person act as class secretary. This person should take notes of everything said during the committee meetings so they can be typed and sent via email to the entire planning committee. A copy of the meeting minutes should also be posted on the class reunion website so your classmates can follow along.
Have An Odd Number Of Committee Members
The class reunion committee should be made up of an odd number of people. This practice helps break ties when the committee is voting on a topic. If the decision is a contentious one, then institute blind voting procedures so no one gets called out for the way they voted.
Planning ahead, researching and preparing for the class reunion meeting will benefit your entire team. It will show your leadership qualities and provide direction for the people attending the meeting. Just remember to keep it loosely structured so you can strike a good balance between having fun and planning at the same time.