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Helpful Hints for Successful Meetings

Posted By Monique F. Berry, Monday, March 12, 2012

Frequently I'm asked what Philadelphia did to win Chapter of the Year. Below are a few points that any chapter can do to ensure success. I'd encourage you to respond with your comments and experiences in participating in local BDPA chapter events

Each year during our Strategy and Planning meeting we asked ourselves the following questions:

  1. What worked?
  2. What types of chapter events inspire and energize BDPA members?
  3. Where can I find an inspiring speaker for my chapter meeting?

Technical Programs are Key
The consensus was that good program meetings are the heart of chapter activities.

Address Contemporary Concerns in the Profession
The technolog is in constant change. In addition to learning about emerging technologies and management techniques, non-technical topics such as entrepreneurship and personal development serve to address contemporary concerns in the profession.

Know Your Customer

What does your local BDPA membership want?

  • Meetings?
  • Mini conferences?
  • Community service?
  • Leadership roles?
  • Social events?

Meeting topics?

  • Tutorials vs. cutting-edge?
  • Technical vs. contemporary topics?

·Differences from chapter to chapter?

  • Big city vs. small town
  • Academia vs. industry
  • Cultural

Bottom line: if people come, you're doing the right thing.


  • Knowing your audience is important to making effective program choices.
  • Who are the participants and what are their aspirations?
  • Focus on the subjects of interest to your members.


Find Inspiring Speakers
There are many ways to generate and put together your chapter's program. One of the advantages of volunteering with your chapter is the opportunity to invite speakers on topics you are curious to know more about. Hold planning meetings to brainstorm and share ideas for future meetings and ask for suggestions from your members. You can also draw on talented people in your local area, for example at colleges, universities, corporate sponors and other professional organziations.

Distinguished Lectures

  • Don't restrict your speakers to just BDPA members
  • Partner with other professional organizations/societies to hold joint meetings.
  • Partner with your local corporate sponsors
  • Partner with your local community colleges and universities.

 Running the Show

  • Encouraging attendance shoud be #1 priority
  • FREE food & drinks – don't make $$$ compulsory
  • Ask a sponsor to cover this cost ($200-$500)
  • Don't insist on BDPA membership
  • Your speaker Is the #1 reason people come
  • Don't just say thanks…how about a small gift of appreciation (BDPA lapel pin, certificate)

Getting fancy

  • Remote participation via WebEx or NetMeeting
  • Joint meeting with other chapters.
  • Hold the meeting the 3rd. Saturday of the month and participate in the national webinar toeghter with a group debrief after.


  • Take advantage of the national website to announce your meetings.
  • Whether by calendar, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and email, let everyone know the key details of who, what, when, where to find your meeting.
  • Remember to also give some background as to why the topic is relevant to them at this time!

Keep your chapter website current with information for past and future events.

Spreading the Word

E-mail distribution list

  • Event notices MUST link to website
  • Don't abuse it, make each email blast relevant
  • Be proactive to invite newcomers – past meeting signup sheets
  • Don't send too early – people are busy and will forget
  • Don't insist on BDPA membership à let them see the light


  • Out-of-date à UsELEss!
  • Post all meeting information (including presentation if possible
  • Other ways of advertising events
  • National calendar
  • Chapter newsletter
  • Local newspaper
  • Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin

Bottom line: you want your chapter events to be a habit

Stay in Touch

The National chapter has a central calendar available to link and share information related to chapter events. Keep the Executive Office connected with your chapter info, and visit the National websiteyourself to see what your colleagues in other chapters are currently programming.

Good Luck and Keep Up the Good Work!

I encourage you to attend your local events, to get involved with your chapter's program committee, and to present your own work in a meeting.

Please keep up the good work, and keep in touch!

Tags:  Program Meeting  Success 

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Comments on this post...

Wayne Hicks says...
Posted Monday, March 12, 2012
This is a powerful post full of outstanding information. This is a "must-read" for all BDPA leaders ... particularly those in the Member Services business area.

Thanks for taking time to document your insights in this manner! I've already shared on my chapter's FB-page and via Twitter!
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