Host Prep Packet by astrass

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									                                                         Host Prep Packet

          “How do I Host a
          House Meeting?”
Thank you so much for hosting a house meeting. House meetings have always
been a basic foundation of organizing in America. And getting organized is the
first step in building a movement for an economy that works for all of us!

This packet will help you get started with planning your meeting. It has tools,
checklists and worksheets to help you recruit people and be an effective
facilitator. Remember, the purpose of these house meetings is to build the
relationships that can sustain our movement, from the ground up. Have FUN and
let us know how it goes!

         Host Checklist                                            p. 2
         Key Roles & Responsibilities                              p. 3
         Recruitment Basics                                        p. 5
         Creating Your Recruitment Rap                             p. 6
         Tracking Your Recruitment Efforts                         p. 8
         Telling Your Story                                        p. 9
         Facilitating Your House Meeting                           p. 11

       Questions or Concerns? Please email
                House Meeting Host Checklist

Invite people to your house meeting

Recruit a team to help make the house meeting a success

Prepare your welcome and opening story

Make confirmation / reminder calls 3-5 days before your house meeting

Make confirmation / reminder calls the day before your house meeting

Make copies of the materials you’ll need
Go to for the discussion guides.

Arrange for refreshments at the meeting
Delegate to others or prepare refreshments yourself

Have a great meeting!!!

Let Change Nation know how your meeting went
     Fill out the report form online or email it to:
     Post an update online at:
     Suggest future discussion topics!

        Questions or Concerns? Please email

                   Key Roles & Responsibilities
Host Responsibilities
  Before the meeting:
   Get People to Turn Out: Invite people to your house meeting and do
     follow-up to confirm their attendance. Recruit a timekeeper and any other
     roles that are helpful.
   Ensure Smooth Logistics: Make sure you have supplies (pens, markers,
     tape, etc.), handouts (from the day of packet) and refreshments ready
     before people arrive. Hold your meeting in a space that can accommodate
     your group (enough chairs, comfortable feel, no interruptions).
   Prepare Yourself and Your Team: Practice your opening welcome and story
     in advance. Prepare the recorder and timekeeper for their roles by
     reviewing their responsibilities, and the detailed agenda, with them.
  During the meeting:
   Create a Safe Space for Discussion: Make sure that people are participating
    in the discussion and that everyone has an opportunity to be heard
    (“haven’t heard from you Jim, what’s your thinking on this?”). Don’t get into
    debates, let people agree to disagree and think of points of disagreements
    as future opportunities to learn more.
   Keep the Conversation Moving: Review the agenda at the beginning of the
    meeting. Take cues from your timekeeper when it’s time to move on.
    Gently cut people off if they’re rambling or making long speeches. As
    necessary, paraphrase / summarize what's been said, and harmonize
    (“sounds like you Betty, and you Ed, are rather close to agreement on this.”)
   Create a Sense of Momentum: At the end of the meeting, review
    agreements and decisions made. Try to set a next meeting (location, time,
    and date), maybe someone else would like to host the next time.
  After the meeting:
   Follow Up: Thank each person who came to the meeting by calling or
     emailing them after the meeting.
   Report Back to Change Nation: Fill out the report online at, and tell us how the meeting went, what you
     want to discuss next and what your group is planning to do.

                                             Additional Roles / Responsibilities

Timekeeper Responsibilities

   Stick to the Agenda Times: Remind the host and participants when it’s time
    to move on to the next agenda item. If the group agrees to lengthen certain
    parts of the agenda, then make sure to adjust the rest of the agenda
   Cut People Off Gently: Have an agreed-upon signal / process for gently
    cutting someone off if they are speaking or rambling for two long (no one
    person should speak for any longer than 3 minutes at a time – this isn’t the
    time for speeches)

Other Roles to Consider:

   Hospitality Coordinator: As the host, you could facilitate the conversation
    and delegate the hospitality responsibilities to someone else. The
    hospitality coordinator should make sure that people feel comfortable and
    have some light refreshments to enjoy along with the great company!

   Prayer Leader: Depending on your faith tradition, it might be helpful to
    start your house meeting with a prayer. Why not ask a friend to take on
    that responsibility?

   Note Taker: This role can be tricky, you really only want someone to take
    notes on the commitments and plans for action that get made. Make sure
    that no one feels like their personal stories are the subject of notes.

                     (Modified from

                                   Recruitment Basics
Asking people to come to your house meeting involves four straightforward steps:

   1) Connect: Let the person know who you are, why you care about hearing from people
       in the community, and ask them how they have been affected by the economic

   2) Context: Give an explanation of why the House Meeting is important, who else they
       can expect to meet there, and what will come out of the meeting. Be specific about
       the challenges we face as a community, but also the opportunities and hope that we
       can create by coming together.

   3) Commitment: Ask the other person if you can count on them to come to the House
       Meeting. Be very specific about the date, time, and place.
         a. “Can we count on you to join us on _____________ ?”
         b. “Will you join me at ____________ ?”

       LISTEN CAREFULLY. Is the answer “Yes, Definitely!” or “Maybe . . .” or “No, I can’t”?
       In some cases, a “Maybe” really just ends up being a “No”, but sometimes the person
       is saying maybe because they need more information or context.

   4) Catapult: If someone says “yes” then give them the opportunity to take on a real
       responsibility at your House Meeting. Ask:
           a. Can you bring a prayer, poem or song that speaks to your hopes and dreams
              for our community and nation?
           b. Can you bring __________ to the House Meeting? (i.e. food, drinks, etc.)
           c. Can you commit to bringing 2 friends with you?

An Important Note About Following Up:
    Even when someone says “Yes! I’ll be there”, you can’t take that commitment for granted.
    One rule of thumb is that only 50-70% of people who say “yes” will actually show up – not
    because they don’t care but just because we all have busy lives. To ensure good turnout at
    your house meeting:
        Follow Up to confirm they’re still coming a 3-5 days before the House Meeting
               (and check on any “catapult” responsibilities they took on)
        Follow Up to confirm one more time the day before the House Meeting

       (Modified from the works of Marshall Ganz, Harvard University, and the New Organizing Institute)

                      Creating Your Recruitment Rap
When recruiting people it is essential that we use clear, concise language. So use this worksheet
to help you write out your rap for recruiting people to come to your House Meeting. Don’t
worry about getting it exactly right; every conversation and call will be different anyway. You
don’t want to be overly scripted or formal, just think of it as inviting someone to have a chat
with a group of friends.


     Hi, my name is ___________________, and (if necessary, remind of how you’re connected).

     I’m calling to invite you to _________________.

1)       CONNECTION: Be prepared to tell them something about what motivates you to hold a
     House Meeting. Also have some key questions ready to ask them to get the conversation
     going and gauge their interest in what you’ll be discussing (remember to LISTEN to how they

     I’m having this House Meeting because I value ___________________, and I’m concerned

     about the economy because _________________________________________.

     Are you also concerned about ___________________________?

     What do you think about ___________________________?

2) CONTEXT: Explain how the House Meetings will build something new and exciting and what
   will happen there.

     This house meeting is just going to be a casual gathering of friends and neighbors, where

     we’ll talk about ____________________________________. I think it’s important to

     bring people together for conversations like this because I believe that we

     can _______________________________ if we just start building relationships.

3) COMMITMENT: Get a real commitment. It’s okay for the person to say “no” but be prepared
   to ask for smaller commitments. If the person says “maybe” figure out what it will take to
   make that a firm “yes” or if they’re really just afraid to tell you “no.”

     I’m having a House Meeting on _______________ at _________________. Will you join

     me there?

     Is there more information that I can give you so that you’d be able to say “Yes” instead

     of “Maybe”?

     I understand that you already have plans this time; we’re going to make these House

     Meetings a monthly get-together. Would you be interested in hearing about those?

     Could I call you after this House Meeting to let you know what happened and what we’ll

     do next?

4)       CATAPULT: Think about what specific skills and resources other people might have, or
     responsibilities that others could take on, that would help make your House Meeting even
     more successful.

     I’m so excited that you want to come to the House Meeting. I was wondering if you

     could help me pull off the House Meeting by ___________________________?

                        Tracking Your Recruitment
When you reach out to recruit people to come to your House Meeting, keep track of every
person you talk to and keep notes about what happened in the conversation.

                                  Will They Commit / Turnout?          Notes for Follow-Up
   Name, Number & Email
                                  Yes         No        Maybe      (“catapult” responsibilities?)

    Note: You may have to call more than 20 people to get a dozen yeses, so don’t stop here

                                   Telling Your Story
As a house meeting host, one of the first things that you’ll do is welcome people to the meeting. As part
of your welcome, it’s good to share your story and what motivates you. Use this worksheet to help you
craft your opening story in advance.

Who Are You: What are the values and experiences in your life that have shaped the choices you and
your family are making in this economy and that call you to leadership?

   FAMILY & CHILDHOOD                 VALUES                                    EXPERIENCES & LIFE CHOICES
      Parents/Family                    Values society? (i.e. equality,          Connection to key books or people
      Growing Up                         opportunity, etc.)                       First experience of organizing or social
      Your Community                    Values from faith traditions?             change
      Role Models                       Values for how we treat each other?      School / Career
                                                                                   Overcoming key challenges

How Is The Economy Affecting You: What challenges are you, your family and your community facing
right now? Why do they motivate you to join the fight to renew the American Dream?

 PERSONAL:                          FAMILY & FRIENDS                            COMMUNITY:

(Modified from the works of Marshall Ganz, Harvard University, and the New Organizing Institute)

What’s Your Vision: What is your vision for a better economy that makes the American Dream a reality
for all of us? What’s your vision for an economy that works for everyone in your community? What do
you hope to come out of the house meeting?

Put It All Together: Now that you’ve reflected on your values and life experiences, the challenges you’re
facing, and your vision … boil it down to a few images, feelings and phrases that explain why you’ve
chosen to host a meeting.

Short (3-5 minute) stories are more powerful than long speeches. Don’t try to tell your life story, or give
a lecture on the economy. Speak from the heart, keep it short and leave your listeners wanting more!





   (Modified from the works of Marshall Ganz, Harvard University, and the New Organizing Institute)

                      Facilitating Your House Meeting
Hosting a house meeting relies on many of the same skills and instincts we use whenever we bring
people together – we make sure that people have a positive experience! A house meeting isn’t just a
party though. There are clear goals for these house meetings and reaching those goals requires a special
level of attention and dedication on the part of the host.

Here are some tips to help you be an effective host.

                       DO                                                 DON’T
           Facilitate the Discussion                             Dominate the Discussion
              Set Ground Rules                                       Get into Debates
             Create a Safe Space                                    Shut People Down
                Set an Example                                       Get Side-tracked
        Make Sure Everyone Contributes                      Let Others Dominate the Discussion
             Keep to the Agenda                                     Lose Track of Time

Group Standards or ‘Ground rules’: What are the ‘norms’ we want to create to make sure these
conversations are effective and meet our goals for these house meetings?

     Set and hold to standards in your meeting to improve the level of trust within a group.
          o Examples of ‘ground rules’:
                   share only what you wish to share
                   respect peoples' need for confidentiality
                   avoid psychologizing and criticizing (saying why a person does, says, or thinks
                      something - ask them why, but don’t tell them why)
                   focus on behavior, not judgment
                   be on time for sessions, end on time
                   interrupt when needed for clarification or comment - but be conscious of letting
                      people finish their train of thought before doing so
                   voice agreement and, especially, disagreement: don't just keep quiet if you
                      disagree - find a non-confrontational way of expressing the reasons for
                      disagreeing, and offer the data that support those reasons
                   give each other slack to experiment and be awkward trying out new ideas or

                                  (Modified from


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