Meeting Time Management

Bill Collier:

To add to Alan’s discussion about meetings running over time, I offer this list of suggestions that the Toastmaster of the evening can do to manage the time:

* Prior to the meeting, find out how much time each speaker will request. If too many are more than about 8 minutes each, go back and ask some or all to shorten their times.
* Coordinate with the president before the meeting and ask that the business meeting be kept brief
* Omit or shorten your own prepared comments
* If there are no guests or newer members at the meeting, introduce the folks with roles but ask them to not explain their roles
* Ask the Table Topics Master to omit or shorten their prepared remarks
* Shorten the time allotted to Table Topics
* Ask the Timer to read only names and not times for Topics and Evaluations
* Shorten the break
* Shorten the time allotted for written comments. We are in the habit of 1 minute, but that’s not a firm rule.
* Ask the General Evaluator to keep things moving and keep his/her comments brief
* Ask the Vote Counter to bring the awards up front as soon as they are ready
I’m probably missing some other ideas and maybe other members can submit their own.

In short, the Toastmaster is the Master of Ceremonies. He or she is in charge of managing the meeting, with one of the goals ending on time. Please understand:

* I’m not suggesting that ending on time trumps all other considerations. It’s not have a great meeting OR end on time. It’s the Toastmaster’s challenge to ensure a great meeting AND end on time.
* The TM is definitely NOT an “innocent bystander.” This is an opportunity to actively manage a meeting – not just go through the motions.
* For many if not most meetings, you don’t have to do anything special to end on time. In fact, most of these are the exception and not the rule. When needed, choose the approaches that fit the situation. The point is to be aware and engaged in actively managing the time.

As a side benefit … meetings are the bane of most businesses, and usually represent an incredible waste of time. If you can manage a meeting and control the time involved, you’ll gain job security as you’ll be a valuable asset as a manager. Serving as Toastmaster is a great opportunity to practice those skills.

I’d like to thank Bill for putting a lot of time and thought into his critique of our meetings and for suggesting prudent and important ways we can maximize our time in order to have an efficient and effective meeting.  I agree that the Toastmaster role is excellent practice for conducting meetings and those skills certainly translate well into the workforce.  I learned a lot about myself and where I need to improve when managing meetings when I served as Toastmaster for the first time several weeks ago.

One suggestion I have is to be careful about how much we restict individuals who have roles from elaborating on their role description on nights when we don’t have guests.  Those who are working on their CL manual and have asked a fellow Toastmaster to complete an evaluation are often required by the manual objectives to give such a description and be evaluated on their delivery.

Erin G.

Tom Terrific

Here are a few other ideas.

– Timekeeper – make sure you end Tabletopics on time. 20 minutes 0r 7:40pm is the target.

– Evaluators – usually you can stand in place to do your evaluation and don’t need to walk up to the lectern.

– Paper Evaluations – fill out the slip of paper while the speaker is speaking rather than waiting until the end of the speech.

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