Part of HLAA’s mission is to support people with hearing loss and their friends, family and co-workers; therefore, HLAA Chapter meetings are a place where it’s okay not to hear well. It is at HLAA meetings that people get peer-to-peer support, learn about hearing assistive technology and other strategies to help themselves live well with hearing loss.
Think about the meetings and events that you like to attend and ask yourself why you want to be there. Like you, attendees want, need and deserve meetings conducted in a friendly and professional manner and where they can exchange information and ideas in a positive and respectful atmosphere. Add some variety and fun and you have meetings that people mark on their calendars and don’t want to miss. Although hearing loss is a serious health concern, chapter meetings will be enjoyable because people with common concerns in mind come together to learn and meet others with hearing loss, all in a communication accessible place where everyone understands what it’s like not to hear well.
- Host meetings consistently. Some HLAA organizations hold strong, quarterly meetings while others have 10 to 12 meetings annually. Most meetings should be primarily educational in nature. (Invited speakers are not necessary to have an educational meeting. Members can educate one another.)
- Promote meetings at least four weeks ahead of time. See a sample flier.
- Develop a 6- to 12-month meeting schedule and promote it, where possible. See one chapter’s yearly schedule.
- Encourage member participation at each meeting.
- Strive for a minimum of 12 committed people attending meetings regularly.
- Except when membership decisions are required, avoid conducting business at meetings. That is the job of a planning or steering committee or board of trustees. While groups need structure to function efficiently, keeping business at a minimum allows more time for member enrichment and interaction.
- Print and hand out an agenda for each meeting. See the sample agenda with additional directions here.
Manufacturers’ Representatives as Speakers
When manufacturing company representatives speak at a meeting, make sure to have literature from other manufacturers available. If that isn’t possible, at least have a resource sheet prepared with the contact information of other companies and display them at the meeting. Making competitors’ materials available demonstrates to attendees that HLAA does not endorse any product or service.
Meeting Topic and Format Ideas
Any time you involve everyone in the room in an activity or discussion, they feel recognized and welcomed and are more likely to come to future meetings. This is a process when someone reaches out to an HLAA Chapter for help – he or she will continue to come and learn, develop and in turn, help others with their hearing loss.
An easy meeting format is a moderated roundtable discussion about a topic such as coping with hearing loss during the holidays or traveling with hearing loss.
Another format is showing a captioned DVD such as HLAA’s Learn About Hearing Loss and Teamwork for Hearing Loss Awareness. In addition, you can show Invisible No More. You can follow the presentation with a discussion about it.
HLAA Board of Trustee members and staff are available to speak at state organization and chapter meetings. HLAA staff members request a stipend to defray their travel costs. To request such a speaker, please contact HLAA.
Along with traditional meetings, consider having a fun meeting when people can enjoy themselves with a game. Some chapters have played hearing loss “bingo” or “Jeopardy." The games might not appeal to everyone, but it’s just another idea to use when you think it’s the right time.
For a list of topic ideas, please click here.