Administrative Support – How to Manage a Meeting

A dear friend and true expert, Dr. Eleanor Henry, writes on how to manage meetings. 

“Last week’s meeting would have started on time, but the starting time wasn’t emailed out until one hour before, so the participants, the few which showed up, straggled in and began work 15 minutes late. The room was hot and muggy from a recent air conditioner breakdown. The chair opened the meeting but the minutes from the meeting before were not done so the participants could not approve the old minutes. Also, no one remembered all of the open action items. It didn’t matter because 7 people were required for a quorum and only 6 attended. The agenda wasn’t complete and the read-aheads that the briefers provided were not distributed before hand. Others wanted to call in but could not because no one had arranged a dial-in link.  Even if there had been, the racket from hammers and drills of people trying to fix the air conditioning in the other room was nearly deafening. The briefer struggled to make himself heard above the din. The computer, slide projector and screen hadn’t been set up and no copies of the slides were available, so the attendees huddled around the briefer’s 15 inch computer screen. At least they could hear him better.”

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Making Meetings Matter

How to make formal meetings efficient and effective to achieve organizational goals.

Despite the triumph of American arms in the Revolutionary War, by 1787 the former colonies, loosely affiliated under the Articles of Confederation, were suffering severe setbacks at home and abroad. The Articles allowed only for a very weak central government which was incapable of regulating activities between the states at home and equally impotent at defending American interests abroad (such as with the Barbary pirates). Citizens knew that a stronger central government was needed and convened the US Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia from 25 May to 17 September 1787.

The group included delegations of leading men of each state. Each delegate had been appointed by the state legislature and commanded the respect of its citizens. Each state (except Rhode Island) sent a delegation, reflecting the beliefs of their legislatures in the objectives and the importance of the Convention. The Convention had a formal process which was overseen and chaired by the most respected man in the colonies at that time, George Washington. Members included politicians, lawyers, scientists, soldiers, physicians, and businessmen. The Convention almost broke up several times because of the differences of opinion and the personalities of influential members. The Committee of Style and Arrangement, headed by Gouverneur Morris and including several intelligent and ambitious men who wanted to make a mark on history, created the final draft of the Constitution and made important adjustments. Alexander Hamilton’s reputation suffered as a result of his participation, but James Madison’s was enhanced.

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