How to Plan Great CERT Monthly Meetings


Planning calendar for CERT meetings

Are you in charge of Emergency Preparedness meetings?

Do you have a regularly-scheduled Emergency Preparedness meeting for neighbors or co-workers? If so, you can be thankful this topic is “on the radar.” At the same time, if you are responsible for planning and managing the meeting, then you know it takes thought, each month!

I’ve been running or attending neighborhood CERT meetings every single month for about seven years. During that time our group has had different group leaders, and they are always on the lookout for suggestions to “make the meetings interesting.”

Recently we had a training meeting that seemed to work well. Here’s a description of how we planned for it. I think you’ll find you could put on a meeting like this with very little effort!

A.  Meeting Timing

We hold our meetings the same day and time every month – makes it easy to remember! We limit each meeting to one hour to keep speakers on their toes and attendees from checking their watches.

B.  Meeting Template

I recommend putting together a meeting template so a new volunteer has a track to run on when stepping up to be that month’s meeting planner. An abbreviated version of our template:

  1. One month before the meeting – arrange for speaker or select training activity
  2. One week before the meeting – Distribute invitations via email or flyers
  3. Day before the meeting – Confirm speaker, arrange for room set-up and audio-visual, organize handouts and refreshments, send out meeting reminder
  4. At the meeting – Assign first to arrive as “hosts,” assign a couple of others as clean-up crew
  5. Agenda – Welcome, introduce new members or visitors, present program, acknowledge guest speaker and that meeting’s planning crew, close on time
  6. Day after the meeting — Send out thanks, follow up on action items

C.  Meeting Activities

Coming up with something interesting each month takes effort! Naturally, one good source of programs is guest speakers and guest trainers. We have also found that an occasional training video from YouTube can be a great program.

We have also discovered there are some secrets to successful meetings beyond the formal program, however. They include: having name tags and refreshments, having something for everyone to do (for example, change batteries in radios, give a report on their neighborhood), mixing up whole group and small group activities, and adding an element of competition.

Build a collection of Successful Meeting Ideas

So far, I haven’t found any single great source of meeting ideas, and have been forced to develop my own collection. It’s slowly taking shape!

Have you put on or attended any particularly good CERT meetings lately? Can you share the topic and the activity with everyone? Just drop a description in the comment box!

Thanks for your input.
Virginia Nicols
Your Emergency Plan Guide team

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4 Responses to “How to Plan Great CERT Monthly Meetings”

  1. Commander Says:

    Joe just reminded me about the importance of the room layout. Watch for more on that!

  2. Virginia Says:

    What does CERT mean, again? It’s Community Emergency Response Team — thanks for the reminder!

  3. Joe Says:

    One of the best meetings I ever attended was actually a visit to our local county communications center. Imagine berms and barbed wire on top of a mountain — an installation we’d driven by 100s of times and never even noticed!

  4. Russ Flanigan Says:

    Love the 6 steps to a successful meeting!
    They can work well for any group meeting.