Points to Ponder

POINT ONE: Ending on Time

Last night’s chairperson came to me after the meeting and asked for my opinion on how we could have ended earlier. Now ending at 9:45 p.m. isn’t a disaster by any means but there are places where we could have picked up that time and next week you are going to get your opportunity to help the club executive decide what to do to help chairs end meeting on time. (And BTW last night’s was a fun night and I congratulated the chair. Not every meeting had as much laugher and good fellowship IMHO.)

Years ago we always ended on time. This letting the agenda get away from us is just a habit and a bad one at that.

Should we limit the Toastmasters introduction to 60 seconds instead of five minutes as what happened last night?

How about the GE’s report where more often than not I hear the GE say: “I see my time is up but I need to say…” and then they go on for an additional five minutes?

How about reinforcing with the officers that they have 60 seconds not four or five minutes for their reports?

Speaking Out should go two minutes and not four or five as happened last night. It was me 😦 and I got told when I got home.

Newcomers, who don’t understand the importance of learning how to conduct business meetings yet, have called in the past for the elimination of the business session but that defeats the point of learning leadership skills and should be strongly rebuffed.

Any way you get the point and next week you’ll have 20 minutes or so to offer them to the club.

POINT TWO: Cellphones 

My speaking out session (which went too long) involved cellphones. One of our members said he had his cellphone with him but it was on vibrate. At the Area Club Contest night audience members were asked to turn off their devices as a vibrating phone is just a temptation to bring it out to see whose calling and then there’s the temptation to talk or text. This is both disruptive and disrespectful of our fellow members.

Not only that but I question the wisdom of being attached to a cellphone 24/7.  I do not bring my cellphones to business meetings and I don’t bring them to Toastmasters. But then again I’m not a nuclear scientist or on call in my work as a brain surgeon 🙂

POINT THREE: Missing Assignments

In past years we’ve had times when members routinely didn’t fulfil their assigned roles and either just didn’t show up or sent an email blast to the club and promptly forgot to ensure that their role was filled. This is behaviour that in a working situation can result in really ugly consequences and at Toastmasters it is equally discouraged. If you are assigned a role for an upcoming meeting and can’t fulfil it, it is your responsibility to find a replacement. When you just don’t show up everyone knows as your name is on the printed agenda. Other club members now have to make last-minute arrangements to compensate.

As a mentor to several members I share with them my concerns when I see they drop an assignment. If we don’t get on this early in the year by spring we are faced with an epidemic of no-shows.

POINT FOUR: The money motion

Despite how it might look, I am not trying to obstruct the motion to create a club trophy to be award in our evaluation contest. What is holding this motion up is it is not worded clearly enough to be supported.

Here’s what I’d suggest should happen:

  • The motion should read “I move that First Oakville Club allot $100 (or whatever the amount) to create a club-level evaluation contest trophy*.
  • Somewhere in the debate a member should rise to a point of parliamentary inquiry and ask, through the chair, for the treasurer (who should have had this discussion already with the mover of the motion) to report if the club has sufficient funds. The chair should ask the treasurer to reply and he or she should simply say yes there are sufficient funds available or no there is no budget available for this request.)
  • The next motion should read “I move we refer the naming of the trophy to the executive committee**”

* See Robert’s Rules of Order – section four Handling A Motion – The Stating of the Question by the Chair – part 20

** The naming of the trophy is a matter that must be referred to a committee and not open to debate (but the committee’s recommendation maybe voted upon) as in this situation it involves a sitting member and may affect her reputation or status in the club.

POINT FIVE: Why does any of this matter?

In a month’s time I am anticipating being asked to chair a revitalization meeting of a club which stopped functioning years ago. If asked, I will accept. Since no annual meeting has been held in years the current board of directors cannot assume they have the support of the membership and that the old bylaws are null and void.

Notice 30 days in advance of the meeting has been sent out to paid-up members and former members (who can buy a membership at the door if they wish to participate).

At the meeting I will ask for a verbal vote confirming the assembly’s desire that I chair the meeting. Assuming a positive outcome I will then ask the assembly to approve the use of Robert’s Rules of Order. (Unless I politic this issue it will be resisted by those who don’t understand why it is critical to the success of the revitalization process.)

If we get this far, I will ask for a motion to declare the existing constitution and bylaws defunct. (The bylaws calls for there to be five board members and with a club with 20 paid-up members this is going to be impossible.)

So if that gets passed I will ask for a motion to create three board of director’s positions. If that gets passed will hold an election.

If the election takes place I entertain a motion to adjourn (so that the new board can work on bringing forward a plan of action to the club at a future meeting where motions can be moved, seconded, debated and votes taken).

And all of this I learned at First Oakville Toastmasters during business sessions like the one we held last night. That’s why all of the above is possible.

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