Proper Meeting Etiquette

August 18, 2017


If I had the task of selecting a portion of the punishments for terrorists, I'd choose the most irritating thing I could possibly think of on the face of the earth. Among other uncomfortable things, I would force them to endure an eternity of sitting through poorly run meetings.

Oh-my-stars and double heavens-to-Betsy. How I loathe sitting through a drawn out, long-winded, rambling meeting that could have been handled through a simple email.

Southern women love a good club. We can turn a book, game, flower, dinner, salvation or an animal into some sort of official organization. The menfolk match us club-for-club with their own groups for hunting, stamps, go-karts, sports and of course, charities -- to keep them humble.

A well run or poorly run meeting magnifies the fact that some folks were put on this earth to be the generals, and others were created to be captains who execute the orders. Cousin Lulabelle is an example of someone who loves being a captain -- give her a job, and she's off and running. At the last meeting of the Catfish Festival Committee, she was tasked with recruiting participants for the fry-off. Within two weeks, Lulabelle secured 22 restaurants , 8 churches, and 13 family groups for the competition. She's a worker bee, but if she ever had to chair the event, poor Lulabelle would crumble.

College fraternities and sororities often get a bad rap, but I'll let you in on a secret. Sitting through years of Roberts Rules of Order in the basement of the Phi Mu house taught me more valuable life skills than any of my classes on campus. Junior League was my advanced graduate program for learning more proper meeting procedures. Beyond that, were a few excellently run meetings of the Atlanta Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution when it was held in an old, historic rambling house in Buckhead. They called the meeting to order and pledged the flag at the exact time listed on the detailed agenda. The speakers kept us enthralled for precisely 20 minutes. Lunch was served on proper china place settings at not a minute past 12 noon. Business was handled swiftly, and questions and comments were held to a minimum. We left feeling refreshed, informed, relaxed, and very patriotic.

By contrast, Darla in DeFuniak Springs recalled a particularly frustrating meeting of the exclusive Chautauqua Guild, where Darnell showed up with a lit cigar and propped his feet on the piano bench. The president, poor Melanie Maepole, tried to call the group to order, but three of the fourteen members straggled in late. 

Someone brought a cake, which is typical of meetings in the South, because we know the addition of food is a great way of turning anything into a party, but she forgot forks, so someone ran down the hall to see if they could locate silverware. Once the meeting commenced, everyone babbled at once and one member accepted a phone call. Darnell droned on for fifteen minutes about commemorative plaques on trees. Poor Melanie Maepole was flustered and skipped over three items on the agenda. "I guess we should vote on whether we should help with the Christmas Lights. Do we need to make a motion or do we just vote? "What in the tarnation are we voting on?" asked Darnell as a puff of smoke bellowed from his mouth. "I say we vote on whether you should be smoking that nasty old cigar in the middle of our meeting" said Darla. "The windows are open, so quit yer fussin!" he replied. "I need to go home and check on my roast in the oven" said Mrs. Bainbridge. And that's the reason the Christmas Lights were hung all cattywhompus that year.

Decorum and order lead to productivity, which seems to be lacking these days. Perhaps properly conducted small town meetings may inspire those in higher positions in our country to take note and behave themselves with dignity in order to accomplish great things. Let's just remember not to send Darnell to the Senate.

Meeting adjourned.

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