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What was your impression the first time you went to a political meeting? Was it intimidating? Did anyone come up and say hello? Was the meeting full of jargon and in jokes? Did you feel that everyone else in the room knew all the answers and you might as well been at the back of the room with an I-don't-know-my-anarchist-theory dunce hat on?

If we are ever to break out of the activist ghetto we need to seriously improve our ways of running our meetings and making new people feel they are welcome.


Here's a few simple ideas.

* If you've advertised the meeting to start at 7.30pm, then try to make sure they do, rather than 40 minutes later, with all the new people sitting around bored while all the hardened political warriors wander in late 'cos they've been busy chatting to their mates at the bar.

* Make it is someone's job to make any new people feel welcome. Find out what they're interested in, get them involved if stuff that needs doing (see point below). And if you've promised to do something for them then follow up those commitments.

* Stop treating every new person like they are an undercover cop. Of course if you're organising covert actions then you don't blab details out at meetings and only work with people you trust.


* Make the meeting interesting. Maybe get a good speaker, show a film, have a bit of food available, a bit of music at the end. People are more likely to come if they know it's gonna be fun, rather than a chore they ought to go to.

* Get a good chair(person). And if you don't know everyone's name, don't call anyone's out.

* If you're gonna do a bit of speaking and you're not very confident don't worry. Remember no-one's born a good speaker, those people up there being sure of themselves and cracking jokes were no doubt as nervous as you the first time they got up to speak. Maybe if you're gonna make an announcement scribble a few notes down beforehand.

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