Saturday, 17 March 2012

It's been quiet around here...

...and for good reason! I made a decision near the end of last year not to write another blog post until I'd submitted my dissertation. Have I done that? Well, no, but although I have a long list of things to blog about there's one thing I really feel I need to reflect on while it's still fresh in my mind.

On Thursday I chaired my first proper meeting. [I've led staff meetings in work before, but that feels less formal, if you know what I mean.] Never one to do things by halves, my first proper attempt was a two-hour meeting sandwiched between two 1.5 hour drives (don't think I've ever driven more than an hour in a day, let alone three!) There were around eight people present at the meeting, plus three following remotely via Google Docs.

The Good
- Kept very well to time, finished five minutes before finish time
- Everyone in the room contributed
- Material, including most reports, circulated in advance, so people had time to think about issues
- Wifi worked, so remote participants were able to participate(!)

The Bad
- I forgot to specifically state that since the reports had been circulated in advance, officers should just draw attention to highlights and the bits for which they needed input of the committee. As a result, the reports section took longer than necessary.
- We had a second person lined up to field comments and questions from remote participants, but the interweb at the meeting room didn't like her computer so our poor secretary ended up valiantly fielding comments while taking notes. Next time, ask more people to bring computers so this is less likely to happen!
- Google Docs seemed to take a while to update and froze from time to time, so the remote participants were sometimes playing catch-up. We need a better solution. I don't think Skype video or audio quality would be good enough on library wifi, any better suggestions?

The Worst
- Three of us ended up rushing from a bank appointment around the corner, which started a full hour before the meeting start time. Anyone who knows me knows that I'd rather be an hour early than just barely on time! Luckily I'd gone through the papers lots of times and made sure in advance that they were in the right order so I felt less flustered by that than I might have done.

I think it went quite well, but definitely some improvements to be made. I'd welcome any suggestions from others at the meeting to help me to do better next time!


  1. Sounds like it went really well, well done! Seems we have a lot of ideas in common, particularly moving away from the report nature of meetings to decision and action based meetings. Would be very interested to hear from remote attendees and how they could be supported as would love to be able to make our meetings more open.

    1. Thanks Jo, I'll be sure to let you know if I get any more feedback on that.

  2. At the CDG National Council on Monday we'll have someone joining us by Skype for part of the meeting (assuming the technology doesn't let us down)). Will let you know how it goes afterwards.

    1. Hope it goes really smoothly, I'll look forward to hearing!

  3. I've joined a 6-hour meeting remotely, which was interesting! It was really great to be able to keep up with what was going on, but could have been better. The TV I was on was in the wrong place to make it close enough to a normal meeting, which could have been improved by not putting me behind the actual attendees. Also, having someone 'looking after' me so I knew what was going on around the meeting and whether people could hear me ok would have been nice. But on the whole it was really great to be able to do and can only get better

    1. Hi Megan, thanks very much for sharing your experience, very helpful! I can see how putting you behind other delegates would make it easier for the chair to see you but more difficult for you to join the meeting. Do you know what system you used? I'm now wondering if Google hangouts would do the job, but we have the irritating problem of some workplaces blocking access to social tools.