Sunday, October 14, 2018

How to start and end club meetings on time?

One of the important skills that we develop through Toastmasters is "Time Management". Imagine going to a movie that doesn't start on time, and goes well over the time, irritating the audience who paid to watch the movie. It has a significant impact on the audience experience. When a club meeting doesn't start on time and end on time, it impacts the members experience. It affects the members' ability to plan their personal activities. Eventually, it results in loss of membership.

On time club meetings have a direct impact on the quality of the club meeting. This blog gives you some tips on how to start and end meetings, on time.

  1. If a role player is not at the meeting venue, 15 minutes prior to the scheduled meeting start time, swap the role player. Even if the role player calls you and tells you "I am on my way", politely tell them that you are swapping their role with someone else. Do not "wait" for them to reach the venue. If you keep waiting for people to start your meeting, you are indirectly punishing the people who came on time. Moreover, the members who came on time the previous week, would come late this week, because they know that you would wait for them.  VP Education should maintain enough backup role players who can jump-in and play the role. Alternatively, someone can double up the roles by playing multiple roles. For example, the Toastmaster of the Day and General Evaluator role can be combined. Or, the General Evaluator and Speech Evaluator roles can be combined.
  2. Time all the role players. In Toastmasters meetings, most roles are timed. So, the role players would know when to end. However, there are roles such as Sergeant At Arms (SAA), Presiding Officer, Toastmaster of the Day which aren't timed and they end up consuming a lot of time. Don't give more than 2 minutes for each of these role players, during the beginning of the meeting. 
  3. Corporate clubs cannot afford to have a 2 hours meeting. Most successful corporate clubs meet for just an hour. However, it is critical that they start and end the meetings on time - so that, members can return back to take care of their official commitments. If a member had signed up for another back2back official meeting and if the Toastmasters meeting doesn't end on time, the member may miss an important official meeting. If you don't adhere to the meeting timings in a corporate club, you are sure to lose the members. 
  4. Clubs would often combine meeting roles such as Toastmaster of the Day and General Evaluator (especially the corporate clubs), to minimise transitions and save time. The Toastmaster of the Day, after explaining about the meeting flow would go ahead and ask the Timer, AH Counter and Grammarian to introduce their roles and proceed with the meeting.
  5. Table Topics segment is the best segment to fine tune the flow of the meeting and catch up with the time lags, if any. The Table Topics master can decide on the number of speakers to call on the stage, based on the available time. In fact, the Toastmaster of the Day has the responsibility to alert the Table Topics master during the meeting, so that, the Table Topics master can wrap up, on time. (Also read: How Table Topics master can kill a club?)
  6. If the General Evaluator observes that the meeting is running late, he/she can cut down Timer, Ah Counter and Grammarian (TAG) report and can request members to get an offline report from the TAG role players.
  7. If the Presiding Officer notices that the meeting is running late, he/she can skip the "Guest Feedback" segment and request guests to share feedback offline. Alternatively, the Presiding Officer can just get feedback from 1 or 2 guests and request others to share feedback offline. 
  8. If you have guest speakers or educational speakers, inform them in advance about the timing rules being followed by the club. Time their speeches too.
If we know the art of starting meetings on time and ending them on time, we can take that experience and skill back to workplace. We can use the skill to estimate resources and plan for projects well ahead of time, minimise project risks by having multiple backup resources and optimize the execution plan to finish projects on time. 

[If you have other tips for time management, please share them below and I'll update the post to capture them]