Increasing Engagement and Attendance at Meetings

Increasing Engagement and Attendance at Meetings

Categories: Leader Today, Uncategorized

Annette Green, Modi’in, Israel

When you attend La Leche League meetings as either a mother or a Leader, the format and discussion can seem natural and normal. However, if you recall your very first meeting, the format may have seemed different or unusual.

Who is in charge? Can I talk and when? Do I have to be an expert in order to add my thoughts on a topic?

These are all questions that mothers may have when they attend LLL meetings for the first time. When you add the fact that different Leaders have different styles of running meetings, it can get really confusing.

As Leaders, we want to increase engagement and attendance at meetings. Here are some ideas to accomplish that goal:

Clear format

Make the meeting format clear by stating it at the beginning of the meeting and throughout the meeting too. What may seem obvious to experienced Leaders (Yes, you can breastfeed your baby freely during the meeting!) may not be obvious to a first-time attendee.


In addition to information like where the restrooms (toilets) are, you might like to mention expectations about how and when mothers can contribute to the conversation. I like to remind mothers that everyone in the room can contribute something about her breastfeeding experience even if her baby is only a week or two old. It can help to clarify the expectation that we are sharing our mothering experiences and not necessarily our professional experience, and we hope each of us will feel comfortable sharing. There is no degree in mothering! Reminding mothers of this can help empower them to feel confident about the experiences they have had and share them with other mothers at a meeting.

Emphasize mother-to-mother support

After I finish sharing general information about La Leche League, I often say that I’ve finished most of my talking and now it’s their turn! I want them to realise that the meeting is for them and the real power of LLL is our mother-to-mother support model. In our society today where so many people declare themselves as an expert or influencer, it is refreshing that we still emphasize the mother-to-mother support that we have been practising for over 60 years. Sharing from their everyday experience is what we aim for.

Sometimes, in order to avoid answering questions ourselves, we can invite other attendees to share their experiences. Specifically asking parents to share can be an excellent opening to getting to know them better. Even quieter mothers sitting in the corner can be gently encouraged to share their own pearls of wisdom.

Build continuity and community

Often mothers will attend a meeting because the topic is of interest to them and their baby’s stage in life. However, ideally we would like mothers to return every month (or however often meetings are held) in order to build continuity and community. As a Leader, when you recognise the mothers and their breastfeeding experiences, it can be much easier to lead the meeting. You can ask specific individuals to share their experiences when particular topics come up. (Perhaps checking with them before the meeting so they’re not put on the spot.)

Some mothers have told me they didn’t come to more than one or two meetings because they no longer had breastfeeding concerns and they assumed attendance was limited to those who needed help with a specific issue. Plant the seed that LLL meetings are also about building community. Emphasize that even if a particular topic isn’t of direct relevance to them, it’s worth coming to meet up with other mothers and babies.

In addition, I remind attendees that having mothers at meetings who are having positive breastfeeding experiences serves as a good example for others. It can be so reassuring to see a mother and baby happily breastfeeding and hear that they overcame an issue. This gives hope and optimism to someone currently struggling with a breastfeeding challenge. Specifically welcoming returning mothers by name can also build on the expectation that mothers attend meetings regularly.

Questions welcome

I also like to remind mothers that even if there is a set topic, general questions on a variety of breastfeeding-related topics are always welcome. As our babies grow and develop, new questions arise. Even just seeing babies of different ages breastfeeding can give parents new perspectives and information about what to expect in the future.

I’ll never forget one of the first meetings I attended (when my baby was a newborn). A small girl stood on a chair and nursed from her mother who was standing up. It was not anything I had ever encountered before and I am not even sure I knew that children older than three could possibly still be breastfeeding, but it certainly opened my eyes to the possibility and later became a reality.


Marketing sometimes gets a bad reputation but at the end of the day, marketing is just packaging goods or services attractively and bringing them to the attention of someone who needs them.

In the same way, we can think about our meetings and what we offer. Some ideas include: breastfeeding information, support while breastfeeding, community, connection with other parents, a safe place to share mothering experiences, and more!

All these fantastic things take place at our humble LLL meetings just as they did at the original meetings in Chicago many years ago. As we like to say, babies and their needs haven’t changed, although mothers have changed dramatically over this period of time.

The more we share with attendees about what really happens at meetings and the huge impact they can have on mothers and babies, the more likely they are to attend. That means mentioning some of these aspects when we advertise our meetings, encouraging mothers to come to meetings and when they do attend, encouraging them to participate. At the beginning and end of meetings, reiterate all the benefits of continuing to attend LLL meetings to receive support AND to give support. Empowering others also empowers us! As LLL Leaders we know that and we need to share that with those attending our Groups, too. Today, information is ubiquitous. Mothers don’t attend meetings just for information. They attend for the connection and support. The more we highlight this the more attractive attendance becomes.

Annette Green was born and raised in Australia but moved to Israel 20 years ago. She has two daughters and has been a Leader since 2004. Currently, she is a lone Leader of a Group in Modi’in, Israel. She is a contributing editor for Leader Today. Annette has her own holistic health clinic helping women with fertility, pregnancy and menopause challenges.