Planning and Running a Successful Annual Meeting
Being the coordinator for an Annual Meeting of any organization is an arduous and generally thankless task. But then … someone needs to do it, and who better than you!
The goal of this page was to capture some of the experiences of past organizers, to better inform those willing to take on the task in the future. A good start is always to look at the advance meeting guides and past meeting minutes to understand some of the General Membership meeting and board of Director’s meeting business. It might also be helpful to look at how the event had been previously advertised in-line and in print to capture some ideas from there.
Select a Location Early It is best to leverage relationships to get a location that is accessible, can seat the audience, has parking, has A/V equipment or capability and has some “badge.” Nice to have is a University Location with a University connection. As long s we don’t leave it to the last minute (ahem!) cost should not be a factor. Many places “book up” months in advance so early notice is required. It is unlikely that anyone would attend a Connecticut event from NY, however, Massachusetts has a developed network and an on-line calendar, and can potentially bring in quests.
Entry Fee The total cost is really negligible, so it doesn’t make sense to go through the hassle of charging. Plus the value propositon is leaned far in our favor for getting attendees. Make it a treat for the members and other constituents.
Other Advance Activities
- Continuing Education Credit: work with the state personnel who can assign CEU for Arborist Licensing or other .. promote through Thomas Worthley’s list
- TACF Calendar: add to the Google Calendar so other regional chapters are aware
- Web-Site: get an article on the web-site that promotes the event
- Promotion (Bylaws): Send postcards or e-mails 45-60 days in advance so people can put on calendar
Learnings from Host Activities
- COFFEE: from Dunkin Donuts, when planning for 30 attendees, three flagons are needed: one decaffeinated and two regular strength PLUS, go get another regular strength just before lunchtime to help keep people awake for the afternoon sessions!
- WRAPS: easily purchased from Big Y … forecast one per person – bring extra napkins and paper plates
- COOKIES: one per person is not enough!
- WATER: rather than buy more than one bottle per person, suggest refilling bottles from a nearby fountain
- Arrange trash/recyclable collectors at convenient locations ahead of time
- Tablecloth and flowers add a nice touch!
- Ahead of the meeting, arrange for help to carry items into the meeting room, arrange the space and clear the room at the end of the meeting
- Keep receipts all in one place and submit to CT/TACF Treasurer promptly
Running the Lectures Getting a good speaker is tough work! It is recommended to make this a highly targeted process and to work with the Regional Science Coordinator. You will need to have the date set or be flexible to accommodate the speaker’s schedule. Most speakers are University Professors, and can travel best when their classes are on spring break. Some of the Speakers we’ve had in the past include:
- Dr. Charlotte Zampini (UMass Framingham) – amazing lecture on species purity
- Dr. Fred Hebard (TACF Meadowview) – TACF Update
- Dr. Chuck Maynard (SUNY ESF) – Transgenics and GMO
- Dr. Ann Camp (Yale) – Ecology of Chestnut
- Dr. Chad Oliver (Yale) – Global Sustainability
- Dr. Sandra Anagnostakis (CAES) – CT Chestnuts
- Sara Fitzsimmons (TACF) – Chestnuts in China
- Kendra Gurney (TACF) – Cold Tolerance
- Dr. Fenny Dane (Auburn) – Chloroplast DNA Migration Theory
- Leila Pinchot (Tennessee) – Silvical Considerations for American Chestnut Reintroduction
- James Hurd (UConn) – American Chestnut in Connecticut: Using Geospatial Technology for Site Affinity and Habitat Suitability Modeling
- Dr. Leila Pinchot – Reintroducing American Chestnut to the Northeast – Some Thoughts
- Star Childs (Great Mountain Forest) – The History of American Chestnut Restoration Research at Great Mountain Forest and What Recovery of the Species Might Mean for CT Forests
Running the General Membership Business Meeting The General meeting consists of a very few activities, and if properly orchestrated, can take as little as ten minutes or less – yes that is TEN MINUTES OR LESS. It is an ideal meeting to run immediately before excusing everyone for lunch.
- Call the meeting to order and be sure someone is taking minutes with names for motions
- Treasurers Report – balance sheet and budget. Treasurer should have copies to distribute – preferably an overhead projection – and speak to the key points – total expenses (segrated by project and overhead) and income (and income source).
- President’s Report – a bulleted list of the accomplishements and top goals is perfect
- Election of Directors – make sure it was advertised on the web-site and Newsletter!
- Election of Officers – make sure it was advertised on the web-site and Newsletter!
- Appointment of Nominating Committee – the only standing committee
- Any voting ressolutions – make it snappy
- Close meeting
Running the Board of Director’s Meeting
- Send reports out at least 48 hours ahead of the meeting – this will make it more likely that they will be read and that less time will be needed for their review at the meeting itself.
- Add suggested timing for each agenda item so that members can see how well (or not) they are staying within the suggested schedule.
- In anticipation of an issue which might be controversial or expensive or require more scientific knowledge than most members could reasonably be expected to have, obtain prior advice/consultation from an expert and provide this information ahead of time so that members can come to the meeting better informed.
- When a member begins to ramble, repeat themselves and/or take too long to get to the point, gently interrupt and ask them “in the interest of time” to speak to the bottom line of the issue so that others may better understand and/or consider their question or issue.
- When a member brings up an irrelevant issue or one that needs more discussion, especially if it is not on the agenda – respond with “Very interesting, this deserves more time that we have today, let’s deal with it in another way – by group email discussion? another meeting? a sub-committee? Referral for an expert opinion?
- When a member seeks advice on a specific problem at a meeting, rather than allow extended discussion by the group as a whole, ask for an experienced orchard manager to volunteer advice outside the meeting.
The following two tabs change content below.
Bill Adamsen is a member of the CT Chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) Board of Directors. He served as Chapter President for eight years.