So You Want to Become a SIG Leader
Ten Commandments for Successful Special Interest Group Meetings
by Andy Reti
1. Post the date and location of the meeting on the PCS web
site. Notify (email) the PCS web site administrator and the
newsletter editor of the topic and schedule of your meetings.
Specify the main topics to be discussed and the level of
audience computer experience expected (beginner, intermediate or
advanced). Remind members to bring problems and questions.
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2. Make sure meeting room is adequate for the number of people
expected to attend. Check with the PCS person in charge of room
reservations to make sure the room has been reserved for the
right day and for the right amount of time.
3. Decide on the computer equipment, projector, screen, audio
equipment you’ll need for the meeting. Check with the PCS
equipment manager to make sure the equipment you need will be
available. Allow enough time to set up and check the equipment
before the meeting start time.
4. Announce the "Agenda" or "Goals" at the beginning of each
meeting. Then try to accomplish most of these. You are in charge
of the meeting, don't let a few participants "hijack" the
meeting. If a new important but lengthy topic comes up, suggest
it be taken up at a future meeting.
5. Prepare at least one printed handout for each meeting. Bring
enough copies for everyone. People like to "take something home
" from every meeting. If possible bring items to pass around
during the meeting to illustrate your presentation.
6. Try to provide as much hands-on experience for the
participants as possible. Use a computer to demonstrate
procedures and concepts if possible. Show step by step
demonstrations of procedures, rather than just talking about
them. Use on-screen notes (Powerpoint) to present and summarize
concepts and list major points of your presentation.
7. Try to involve everyone actively during the meeting. If
necessary, force, cajole, challenge the audience – ask
questions. Call on people to express their views and ideas - no
passive sitting around. Invite questions and ask participants to
"help" you solve a specific problems. Ask them to share their
8. Ask members to investigate problems and bring materials for
subsequent meetings. Ask them to present their experiences and
areas where they each have special skills. Run the meeting as
“workshop”, soliciting opinions and building on the skills and
experiences of all attendees.
9. Ask attendees to help set the agenda for future meetings.
List and prioritize their interests. Express clearly that these
are their meetings and that we want to provide what they are
interested in. Try to set specific goals and topics for each
meeting. Do not try to cover too much in one session.
10. Start and end the meeting on time. Announce a clear start of
the meeting. Introduce the title of the SIG, the PCS and your
own name. Recognize guests and give credit to all who have
helped you. Keep meetings to a maximum of about 2 hours with a
short break about half-way – do not allow the break to drag out.
During the last five minutes summarize and wrap up and give a
preview of the next meeting. Do not let the end of the meeting
drag out and peter out - announce a definite closure. If some
people want to stay on to discuss specific personal problems,
have that happen after the meeting is over.