Defining a Successful Group Meeting

Annette Green, Modi’in, Israel

Annette Green considers that the definition of a successful LLL Group meeting is not only measured by the numbers of mothers coming through the door.

As Leaders, we help mothers reach their breastfeeding goals and we let them define their own goals. For some mothers, that may be exclusive breastfeeding until solids are introduced around the middle of the baby’s first year of life. For others their goals may be varied based on their physical limitations, cultural expectations, lifestyle and more. Regardless of the mother’s goals, we aim to support her and her decisions for her family. The same approach can be used to define the success of a Group meeting.

I shared in a previous Leader Today article (Reporting on Your Series Meeting, January 2017) that Israeli Leaders share Group meeting reports on our Leader email list. This practice evolved organically and means that all the Leaders reading the email list are aware of:

  • how many mothers attended Group meetings in other locations
  • discussion topics used
  • memberships paid
  • achievements and disappointments.

Recently a Leader posted about a meeting where no mothers attended, and it made me think about what defines a successful meeting.

Small meetings can be successful!

Last year I had a meeting with only one mother. She was a new mother with a very unsettled baby. She had a lot of questions and was finding mothering challenging. The fact that she was the only mother present meant I could give her my undivided attention and answer her many questions in detail.

She was so relieved that I had time to address all the various issues that troubled her and she left feeling more confident than ever. It’s quite possible that she would have felt the same way if she had participated in a busier meeting but she also benefitted greatly from being the only attendee. While I generally like larger meetings with lively discussions, I was glad this mother received what she needed and I chalked it up as a successful meeting. But what about a meeting without any mothers at all?

Meetings with no mothers

Some Groups may be in a part of the country with sparsely populated towns that are isolated from each other as well as from the nearest highly populated city. Families in these areas may be quite large with five, six or more children per family and attending meetings may be difficult. What can you do if you are holding meetings in an area with few mothers?

  • Be realistic about the population and birth rate in your area as this will have a large effect on meeting attendance.
  • Change your definition of a successful meeting from how many mothers attended to the quality of the meeting. Was there a good discussion? Did you feel the mother(s) who attended enjoyed the meeting? Did you notice a change in the mothers from the beginning to the end of the meeting, e.g., from tense to relaxed, from hesitant to more confident? Sometimes this is something you can see or the mother may comment on, but more often it’s an intuitive feeling.
  • Use the mere existence of the meeting as a definition of success. Are you providing mothers with access to updated breastfeeding information and a sympathetic ear in a geographical area without those resources? Even if some meetings have low or no attendance, you are providing an important resource for women in that area.
  • Take the long view. Instead of looking at the success of an individual meeting, look at your meetings over a longer period of time, like six months or a year. One meeting with no mothers over the space of 12 months seems much less important when you see it in the context of 11 well-attended meetings.
  • Is it possible to know in advance that no one will attend? Yes and no. Some of the Groups in Israel ask for mothers to register via email before the meeting. However this approach is not foolproof! Some mothers don’t register and others register but don’t attend because babies are unpredictable and circumstances change at short notice.
  • Even successful Groups have occasional low attendance for a variety of reasons. If you haven’t been actively publicising your Group recently that may be why attendance is low. Do you need to ramp up your advertising?
  • Are you still motivated to lead Group meetings? What is your energy level like? I have noticed a correlation between my energy level and meeting attendance. When I have a busy day with a Group meeting sandwiched in between other commitments, attendance may not be as high the following month compared with times when I feel more rested and energetic.
  • As a lone Leader, leading a large meeting with many mothers and babies can be tiring. Can you arrange your schedule to have no other commitments before the meeting so that you arrive relaxed? Can you schedule some downtime after the meeting to recharge your batteries before getting back to your other responsibilities?
  • Don’t bury your head in the sand! While I have tried to share ways to define a successful meeting in a new light. If no mothers attend month after month, maybe it’s time to examine why. Is it your location, the time of the meeting or lack of advertising? Can other Leaders help you brainstorm?

Online meetings could be another option for busy Leaders or those living in isolated areas. Next time I will share how the geographical challenges of holding meetings led to successful online meetings in Israel.

Annette Green was born and raised in Australia and 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 the co-Associate Area Coordinator of Leaders (AACL) in Israel and a member of the GLC (Global Leaders Committee). She is a contributing editor for Leader Today. Annette has her own holistic health clinic helping women with fertility, pregnancy and menopause challenges.