Thursday, January 27

will anyone come to my party?

The Big Meeting went well last night; I counted nearly 150 people, which is effectively Standing Room Only at our local elementary school. This year, we did several things for the first time, one of which was a simple sign-in sheet, where we asked for a family name (surname); street address; home phone and email address. A fifth column (checkmark) asked if they were members of the Association. I estimate that about 40% of the attendees were prospective members, which is very cool.
Monday update: I compared the sign-in sheet to our membership list, and see that only 3 people were not members! My demeanor just shifted from giddy to annoyed.
We had a fast-paced agenda, and some items which were dwelled upon in prior years (disecting the $100,000+ budget down to the nickel) were glossed over. We'll provide details if anyone wants it, but not bore others to tears when there are more important things to be discussed.

In a few weeks, we'll have our next Association Board meeting, and do a debrief on what worked and what didn't (although we're already trading some ideas on our email alias). One oversight: we didn't provide an obvious basket to collect the survey forms. Oops. Most people just left them on the stage as they exited, but .. we'll correct that for next year.

I arrived early to help setup the handouts and such, and started to worry at 15 minutes before The Big Event, when the room was still mostly empty. I'd already set expectations ahead of time, which I think (in hindsight) was crucial to making this work well. Using another "meeting trick," I noted an approximate time for each item, so both the presenters and the audience would know how long each section was to last. We aimed for a 75 minute meeting and it went about 85 minutes long (partly because the Giving of the Awards took a few minutes longer than expected).

I'm very pleased how well this turned out, and I have to pat myself on the back for planning it properly. Heck, I even inserted a few "planned humor" items to break up the monotony. One long-time Board Member approached me after the meeting, and said this was the best one he can ever remember (in our Association's 15-year history). His comment really made my day, mostly because of the source; he's one of the people who doesn't say much, but when he does, you know that every word counts.

I've always been a big believer in a direct correlation between the usefulness of a meeting and the advance planning that's done, which is lost on 98.36% of all managers, worldwide.

Unrelated: please put down your staplers and step away from the piles of paper! The Sundry on Thursday blog is now updated.

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