Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The materials that will not go away (and other meeting annoyances)

Five meeting annoyances:

1. Not breaking the paper habit -- I was really happy when a Board sent Directors materials electronically. And they set them up in a really cool way on Adobe that I need to learn (with bookmarks).

When I got to the meeting there was a complete paper version waiting for me anyway. After the meeting I left the two notebooks full of materials (that I had electronically) on the table -- definitely didn't have room in my carry-on luggage and wouldn't need to refer back to those paper notebooks anyway. Explained in an email (when asked) that I left them on purpose.

Guess what arrived in the mail yesterday? The notebooks full of paper that will not go away.

2. Verbally reading what was mailed -- Another Board sends a lengthy General Manager's report in advance, in addition to other advance meeting materials. I used to print it out and read it. Quickly learned an hour of every meeting is listening to the General Manager go through every detail in that report. And a print out of that same report is always in a folder at the meeting for everyone.

3. Not checking the conference call dial-in -- One Board has a conference call option for those wishing to participate that way. The dial-in numbers are given to everyone in advance. I was recently tied up in the office and decided not to just drive the few miles away to attend in person. The problem - no one ever checked the conference call to see if anyone was on the line waiting. Anytime we give the dial-in number in advance, check it anyway - even if you aren't expecting someone to use it. It's an option you've already given attendees. Or, don't give the number to anyone except those saying they're calling in.

4. Filling time -- There are meetings that could last an hour, or under an hour. But sometimes staff and/or leadership "fills" time with demos or other presentations so that an entire two or three hours are filled (especially if large travel distances of attendees). My personal opinion is that it's much more respectful of volunteers if the business meeting happens, then adjourns so those who don't want all the demos can leave.

5. Announcing a change in end time -- after the plane tickets are already purchased and/or attendees are in the room -- There's nothing like arriving at a meeting and finding that the time has been shortened specifically due to the flight times of other attendees -- Often means rest of the attendees stuck with late flights (to accommodate the original meeting time) or expensive change penalties due to complete lack of early notice of that decision; or a great deal of the first part of the meeting is everyone checking alternative flights DURING the meeting and breaks. I'm all for any shortened meetings, but decide in advance how much time is needed to allow attendees time to adjust their schedules.


Off to a meeting ...

1 comment:

David M. Patt, CAE said...

When we began sending Board meeting info electronically, Board members still wanted paper copies at the meeting.

Few Board members carried laptops and we didn't offer on-site computers. That was OK with them - they wanted the paper copies.

I guess they didn't want to take the time - or their own paper - to print out everything and lug it to the meeting (it was a local association - nobody had to travel).