Posted by Graham Fussen
Adjusting your club surroundings can spark ideas, conversation
Rotary Leader May 2014 – Volume 4, Issue 6
In the room where it meets, the Rotary Club of Newcastle Enterprise, NSW, Australia, traditionally arranged dinner tables in a large U formation, which let club members see the guest speaker but limited dinner conversations. Club leaders came to realize that members often chose to sit next to a particular friend, and they’d often speak only to one other person.
Club leaders made a change and added smaller round tables, where a member can talk with six people at once. Not only has the new arrangement energized members, but it is also more welcoming to newcomers. How you arrange your club’s physical space can make a big difference in your meetings. Here are some other ways clubs have experimented with their surroundings to spur interactions, spark ideas, and keep club members engaged.
The Rotary Club of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, USA, has its own room at a local park. Bill Phillips, the club’s historian, says that having a space that is like a clubhouse, comfy and private, has ensured that meetings are boisterous, sometimes even rowdy. “I think we would be more reserved in a public setting, and we would lose much of the character of our club,” he notes.
In San Luis Obispo, California, USA, active club members migrate over to a cigar shop, owned by one of the club’s founding members, after the city’s Thursday evening farmers market. Their chats there, which often stretch until closing time, have triggered many service project ideas’
The following are some suggestions you can try at your next meeting:
Get talking. Set up a whiteboard to boost interactions.
Get social. Communicate electronically throughout the week, by email or social media, to establish a more continuous connection between members. Experts say digital communication actually strengthens bonds and increases communication between individuals.
Get out. Change venues, occasionally meeting in an alternative location, or take your club on a field trip.
Get together. Plan an agenda-free, after-work meeting, such as a potluck, to encourage unstructured conversation among members in a fresh environment.