There are conventions about the timing of sessions during a conference and splitting the sessions into periods of about one hour has withstood the test of time. There is plenty of scope for adapting this structure some what. For example, it is often a good plan to have several speakers discussing the same subject and this result in double sessions which need more than one hour. It is wise to remember that even a very keen listener gets very fidgety after about 70 to 90 minutes continuous sitting. A solution is to have a coffee beak or even a short comfort break if the session is a long one.
Administration of a Meeting:
The administration of a meeting falls into several phases. During the build up from the announcement of the event to the opening ceremony, it is a straightforward administrative operation. It has become increasingly usual to use a computer to maintain all the records. This has the added advantage of being able to produce quickly lists and data as required.
In a large event, special attention must be paid to registration procedures to avoid confusion and long queues. As this is where a meeting really begins for participants it is most desirable to make a good first impression. The area should be large enough, well lit and air conditioned if possible.
The number of registration desks will depend on the total number attending, but if possible there should be a number of different times for registration to reduce the pressure at any one time. In a one day event, however, everyone is likely to arrive within a short space of time and sufficient capable staff must be employed to avoid queuing.
One should also ensure the proper arrangement of the tables, position of badges, and the seating arrangements for all the speakers and the participants throughout the meeting.
Evaluation of the Meeting:
Measurement of results is always, difficult but every event should be followed by a post mortem at which the results of the event are judged particularly with a view to learning any lessons which might make the next event of the same kind more efficient and successful.
Characteristics of a Good or a Bad Meeting:
1) Atmosphere: No (or few) tensions. No boredom (although the degree of interest will vary from topic to topic). Interest and commitment
2) Listening: A fair hearing given to ideas presented. Content is judged, not delivery of ideas. Open-mindedness is the order of the day. Ideas are therefore in logical sequence.
3) Disagreement: Healthy disagreement and exchange of view (not disputes). Differences are resolved, not left to fate. Consensus reached.
4) Participation: Members fulfill their function by making their relevant contributions.
5) Awareness: Members do know what the meeting’s objectives are. Briefing has been adequate.
6) Criticism: Criticism is healthy and not vindictive. It is constructive, not intended to be destructive.
1) Not conducive to achievement. Tensions present Boredom, indifference.
2) Listening is not a typical activity. Not much to prove worth listening to Ideas unstructured
3) Disagreement is hostile; sometimes manufactured for effect. Alternatively, no disagreement arises because of apathy, or to avoid clashing with the powerful and aggressive clique. No consensus is reached and a vote may result in an embittered minority.
4) Little participation by the majority, since contributions are largely made by the vocal minority who dominate.
5) Members may well have their own individual and personal objectives
6) Criticism is to destroy, and is often personal.