Ubuntu Toronto Meeting Processes

Evan Leibovitch evan at telly.org
Sun Jan 14 18:38:34 UTC 2007

Dave Sullivan wrote:
> We open our meetings with introductions. This also allows the
> meeting's secretary to write down the names of all the attendees, and
> will help to break the ice for any newcomers. We can then go down the
> agenda items, allowing each person who has something to present to
> have their floor time, followed by an on-topic discussion about the
> issue or project. This is more or less how it went Wednesday night,
> and how it has gone for the last few meetings, and I believe it serves
> its purpose.
> Once the agenda is complete, we can open the table up to any
> questions, comments, suggestions or concerns, or break up into smaller
> groups for support purposes.
> Remember, this is only a _proposal_, so please, *constructive*
> criticism, comments, and suggestions are appreciated and welcome. I
> would also prefer if we could all agree on this arrangement, if not
> then compromise, before we go ahead and employ it.
This is very good. I might suggest an additional component or three:

1) As everyone is introducing themselves, if anyone has a question they
have brought to the meeting they raise it there -- yes, at the
beginning. Sometimes this leads to things added to the agenda at the
last moment, sometimes it gives the experts in the room time to
determine good answers to deliver later, and sometimes it offers fodder
for future meetings. While the instinct is to do this after the "formal"
agenda is done, I disagree -- if the scheduled presentations run late,
this important step is usually missed.

2) By policy all laptops are off, except by the presenter and no more
than one or two others researching issues raised at the meeting. Raised
laptop screens are simply an unwelcome barrier to visual contact, it
looks to damned geeky, and should no more be acceptable than cellphone
calls held during the meeting. If people want to check their mail or
make a call, welcome them to do so outside the meeting.

3) Let each meeting represent and serve the interests of the people
there; leave at least half the time allotted for Q&A and
attendee-generated topics. Meanwhile, don't over-plan and keep
presenters to time limits. Besides encouraging speakers to be more
efficient, this also helps the social aspect of the meeting -- and you
never know what interesting subjects will crop up.

- Evan

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