No Donuts, No Quorum

Wild 008

Meeting Solutions

Mary, the Club President, refueled her car instead of eating lunch. She knew she’d have to drive across the county through evening traffic to attend the club’s Executive Committee meeting after work.

She had no idea what or if she’d be asked to present tonight; probably nothing. A song snippet from her cell alerted her to two emails that she checked as she pumped the gas.

The first encouraged her to attend the meeting with a promise that she’d have fun because the committee would be playing a highly-rated social game. But it contained no information about the business to be discussed tonight

The second email was an invitation to attend a concert in which her best friend was soloing.

Which did she decide to attend? Which would you attend?

If we find it difficult to get enough participants for a quorum we have a problem. Adding “fun games” and prizes is a knee-jerk solution.

Meeting problems aren’t unique to Toastmasters; they’re ubiquitous in business environments. For example, it’s said that Ford executives often spent eight hours in meetings, day after day – as the company lost market share and squandered shareholder money. They don’t do that anymore.

Seth Godin proposed a solution set he guarantees will correct most meeting problems. Unproductive, unfocused meetings waste participants’ time, so he suggests using social pressure to force needed changes.

 “If you’re serious about solving your meeting problem, getting things done and saving time, try this . . .

1 Understand that all problems are not the same. So why are your meetings?

2 Schedule meetings in increments of five minutes. Require that the meeting organizer have a truly great reason to need more than four (two?) increments of realtime face time. . .

2 Bring an egg timer to the meeting. When it goes off, you’re done.

3 . . . allow(s) attendees to rate meetings and their organizers on a scale of 1 to 5 in terms of usefulness. Just a simple box where everyone can write a number. Watch what happens.

4 If you’re not adding value to a meeting, leave.”

 If the meeting absolutely must be held, what is the expected product? Will a new procedure be debated? Will officer reports be critiqued by the committee in whole? Will we expend funds for unexpected purchases? A good meeting has a goal, or a few goals, that can only be reached through a face-to-face meeting.

Adding twenty minutes of “guess your secret” networking or providing a better brand of donuts won’t make the meeting better or more tolerable. It won’t make it productive. It probably won’t attract a quorum.

Be sure the Club’s officer meetings are planned and supervised and that the goals are met. It’s part of leadership; officer meetings can be good practice for leaders.

And, the Mary’s in your club will attend because they understand that their input is needed.

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