On Meetings and Meals #2

By: Eris Weaver | Date: May 8, 2013 | Categories: Meetings & Facilitation

Monday I shared my experience and thoughts about organized activities during conference meals. Today I’d like to talk about a different kind of meeting meal.

Rotary, BNI, eWomen, Soroptomists, Kiwanis, and most other business networking organizations I’ve encountered include a meal with their meetings. Their agendas also usually include some business, a speaker, and networking time (structured or unstructured).

Now, I understand that including food may make it easier for folks on a tight time schedule to kill two birds with one stone by eating and attending a meeting at the same time. But I wonder sometimes if we are scheduling our meetings during meals without really thinking through the “why” of it.

There are good reasons to break bread together; indeed it is one of the oldest forms of extending fellowship and hospitality. But it also takes time and money which could be spent in other ways.

This goes for everything else on the agenda as well. It is so easy to just continue to do things “the way we’ve always done” without stopping to think if they still serve our purpose.

Do we really need a speaker at every meeting? What are we trying to accomplish? Would it make more sense to have speakers less frequently, but then give them more time to do a longer, deeper presentation? Especially when meeting weekly, does each meeting have to have the same structure? What if one was devoted to education, one to formal networking, one to casual networking and excellent eating, and one to conducting business — rather than trying to do a little bit of each one at each meeting?