Have you ever been involved in planning and carrying out a beekeeping meeting? If not, there are a host of things to consider that you may have missed when you simply ‘attend’ a meeting. Kim and Jim have attended probably thousands of meetings,...
Have you ever been involved in planning and carrying out a beekeeping meeting? If not, there are a host of things to consider that you may have missed when you simply ‘attend’ a meeting.
Kim and Jim have attended probably thousands of meetings, and over the last 30 plus years, have seen everything that can go wrong, go wrong, and what those who make good plans did to fix it. They’ve seen lots of meetings run as smooth as glass. Plus, Kim has served as President of both the Connecticut and Ohio State Beekeepers, Chairman of EAS, and President of the Medina Beekeepers. He has the experience of dealing with literally hundreds of planners, speakers, room organizers and all the rest. If planning meetings is, or might be in your future, listen in to this wealth of information.
Take notes from the transcript below, as you will want to make sure your meeting runs smoothly, by taking into consideration their suggestions!
If you like the episode, share it with a fellow beekeepers and/or let us know by leaving a comment in the show notes. We'd love to hear from you!
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Music: Heart & Soul by Gyom, Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus, original guitar music by Jeffrey Ott
Photos copyright © One Tew Bee, LLC
Copyright © 2022 by Growing Planet Media, LLC
Jim Tew: Kim, in my career, as have you, I've been to a lot of meetings. Some of them are good occasionally, some are not good, even bad. Kim, how do you set up for a good meeting? What do you do when you're at a bad meeting? You want to talk about this some?
Kim Flottum: Yes, I think we should explore that just a little bit mostly for people who are just getting started in meeting planning, as opposed to people who have been doing it for a bunch of years.
Jim: Hi, I'm Jim Tew.
Kim: I'm Kim Flottum.
Jim: We're coming to you from Honey Bee Obscura where every week we talk about all things beekeeping. Today, Kim and I are going to delve into the concept of what it's like to be at a good meeting and how do you entertain yourself when you're at a bad meeting?
Kim: [chuckles] Sometimes that's what you end up doing.
Introduction: You are listening to Honey Bee Obscura, brought to you by Growing Planet Media, the folks behind Beekeeping Today Podcast. Each week on Honey Bee Obscura, hosts Kim Flottum and Jim Tew explore the complexities, the beauty, the fun, and the challenges of managing honey bees in today's world and engaging in an informative discussion meant for all beekeepers, long-timers, and those just starting their journey with bees. Sit back and enjoy the next several minutes as Kim and Jim explore all things honey bees.
Jim: What's a good meeting? Tell me what's a meeting that from an organizational standpoint, from a speaker standpoint, from a participant standpoint, what makes a good meeting?
Kim: Well, let me sum up what I consider to be a good meeting is one that I want to go to. First off is good promotion ahead of time. I know who the speaker is going to be. I know what they're going to talk about. I know where the meeting's going to be. I know what time it's going to start, and I know what time it's going to get done. That's in the promotion part. I got that two weeks ahead of time. Then I get to the meeting. I get there on time. There's coffee. There's snacks. There's a good place to sit down. There's lots of places to park. It starts on time. The speaker runs on time. The speaker gets done. There's three or four questions. Thank you. Goodbye. Another cup of coffee and I'm home on time.
Jim: Is this meeting just outside the gates of heaven?
Jim: That is one perfect meeting. [laughs] Oh, I like everything you said, it's spot on. When you were talking, I was thinking, yes, this guy has done a lot of meetings. Everything is nuts and bolts, isn't it? Because everything you listed required someone, probably a volunteer, to be on the job to go get those donuts or to bring in those Bee Culture magazines you're going to be giving away. You got to have that crew. You got to have a dependable crew to set that up.
Kim: That's exactly right, and that crew starts, like I said, before the meeting, you got to have a newsletter or some way to announce the meeting. It's becoming more social media than hard copy newsletters, but somehow most of the people need to know when the meeting is, where the meeting is and what time it's going to start, and who's talking. That sets the stage. When everybody knows all of that information, then it's the next step. That's where your crew steps in. What's the first thing you got to worry about? Where's the meeting? How do you find a place?
Jim: That was exactly where I was going to go when you took a breath. How did you find that building? How did you find that place?
Kim: My town here in Medina, we've got a library that we can use. There's a couple of churches that have spare rooms that let us use the spare rooms during the week. Not on Sunday, of course, but during the week. There's some, what do you call them, social halls, Lion Clubs and Veterans. Some of these places have meeting rooms that you can either rent or they'll just let you use as long as you don't mess it up too bad.
I started knocking on doors and the library worked well because they were built to have meetings. We went there a lot, but we also had a couple of businesses that had meeting rooms for their employees and for other activities and other social groups that had places. If you're going to be the person running a meeting starting next fall, today is the day to start looking if you've got to move.
Jim: For next fall?
Jim: Okay. I would think that would be about the shortest you could do because then you got to re-advertise it, but I would agree, with social media, you can make changes in a hurry and get the word out in a hurry. In the old days, you had to put stamps on and send out letters. I would've wanted more lead time on that. When you find the room, I was thinking, while you were talking, I don't want the listeners to say, well, this room isn't perfect and I want to hold a good meeting, so I'm going move on. Sometimes what you got is what you use. If you're in a small community and you're limited then to hold the meeting, don't let anything you and I have said about good meetings, bad meetings, dampen that. I'd rather have some bee meeting and have no meeting at all.
Kim: Yes, and you're going the extra mile to fix the things that aren't perfect. Something that is commonly a problem is parking. You got a good place. You got a good room to be in, but you can't only get 20 cars or 10 cars in the parking lot because it's not set up to hold big crowds. That's one thing you got to look at. If people can't park, they aren't going to come. The other thing is access, and by access, I mean, a lot of rooms are available from 7:00 to 9:00 PM in the evening and that's it. Doors open at 7, guy comes around with a key and locks them at 9. Is that going to get in your way? That probably is, so what do you have to do there?
A lot of this is assuming that you're fighting a new or different place than you've been meeting in the last 20 years, and something happened and that one wasn't working, you want to move or they tore the building down or whatever. Parking and access is two things you're going to have to worry about right away.
Jim: You're overwhelming me. That's a lot of information in a hurry. I'm actually trying to write notes that may be what the fumbling and fidgeting is that you're hearing. Access, Kim, but I should say this and include you and me, that parking and an access thing for a lot of beekeepers is really important because of mobility issues. In the past, it was even more so because beekeepers are usually old people, oldish.
Kim: Well, that would be you and me.
Jim: I know, and I'm stereotyping, a lot of people are not oldish who keep bees, but they need to be able to park and then to get in the door without having to walk a remarkable distance to do it. If you can, that really, really helps. That's 7 to 9 thing you mentioned that just lit me up because I've been at meetings where some staff person would almost turn the lights off on you if you weren't out of there by 10 minutes until 9, so they can empty the garbage cans and close up for the night because they don't work beyond 9 and I don't blame them.
You'd get this panic rush and then there'd be people standing outside, like bees clustered on the outside of a beehive, that would stand outside and finish the meeting on their own in the parking lot of the building, the library or the VFW hall or whatever it might have been. On one hand, that was really helpful for keeping the meeting on time. On the other hand, it could be a very abrupt ending with the absolute and total requirement that you be out of the building. Good and bad. You know what, go again and you warn them. Some people have more to say, some people want to talk more, some people have more interest, and you just have to tell them that you got to truncate this, we got to be out of here.
Kim: There's another thing to go with just plain facilities. How far away are the toilets?
Jim: Yes, and are there enough of them?
Kim: Yes. Are they right in the room so every time you open up a toilet door, you're right next to the speaker? Or are they a mile and a half down the hall around the corner and outside in the next building? You got to judge those extremes to make sure that A, they're accessible and they're not too, what's the word I want? Visible, but that they work for the group that's going to be there.
Jim: Oh, I'm just withholding so many snide comments right now, Kim. You're some kind of a professional, but for the sake of the listener's ears, I'm not going to go into any of that. Suffice it to say that you need enough restrooms for everybody to stay comfortable. What do you do with PA systems that crack and buzz and don't work, and you tap the microphone and someone rushes up and says, oh, I think this battery is dead. Does anybody have a 9-volt battery? No, no one has one. What do you do for checking and preparing the PA system?
Kim: What I do is shut it off and talk loud, but that's not good enough, and that's something you're going to have to work out with the facilities people. You've got two options. If they don't use this place every week, they may not know if it's not working or the battery's dead or whatever. Somebody is in their early testing and fixing beforehand, or you've got your own. I'm going to tell you that goes a long way. One of those little portable things that you put on the floor in front of the speaker can really, really, really save day.
Jim: Good point, Kim, let's take a short break to hear from the people who pay the bills for us.
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Jim: Well, we both had those instances where the PA system didn't work. How do you feed people, Kim? People have varying diets. Some people are gluten intolerant. Some people have eating restrictions. How do you find a menu and who provides it that you can depend on?
Kim: Well, I look at this two ways and I spent a lot of years planning small county meetings, 25, 30, maybe 40 people max. What we did when we announced the meeting is that donuts and coffee cake available along with coffee. If you want something else, bring it your yourself. That pretty much solved the problem. If you can't eat a donut because of whatever, then you brought the other thing that you can eat so that you could have something to munch on with your cup of coffee and sit around and talk to people.
Those donuts showed up because somebody went before the meeting sometime during the day, picked them up, and them to the meeting. That's one of those dedicated people you have to be able to rely on. Those donuts will show up at 6:30 and they will be on the table, spread out, ready to go. The coffee will be made at seven or whatever. Somebody will rise early, maybe it's you. It has been over the years.
Jim: I want to cut you off and say that the people who are eating those donuts need to realize that the person who brought those donuts to that meeting probably missed the meeting. Because they were having to work cutting donuts, handing donuts out, cleaning up donut trays, and putting them away, and they were at the meeting all day and did nothing but work for free. There has to be jewels in their crowd when their time comes for that kind of commitment. I cut you off on the food thing. Go ahead. We got people eating donuts, and we're thanking the guys who brought the donuts in.
Kim: That's a good point to do is always point to Ronda over there and say, "Ronda, thank you for getting the donuts here on time and making the coffee. We all appreciate that." That gives a little bit of attention and appropriate recognition to the people who are doing the work and not getting to listen to the whole meeting. I've been that person over the years and it feels good. It has somebody saying, thank you. Another bigger issue and careful here because I think I've never done this. He says very carefully. I'll say carefully again. A speaker who runs way, way too long.
Jim: I try, Kim. I normally have on my phone, a big analog clock. It's not counting down. It's not counting up. It just gives me the time. I try to watch that clock. I do try because I have so often been the speaker who follows the overrun speaker and then you get up, and then my timing is all off because you've got a 30-minute presentation and you've got 18 minutes to give it. Or you become the guy who overruns the next speaker's time slot.
Kim: Yes, it's always a dance. Often, not always, but often, you already know the speaker and it gets to be almost personal. You wave your hand and you put up five fingers and say five minutes and then three minutes. Then he's looking at you and shaking his head. No, and he is going 10.
Jim: Then the guy goes 20 minutes over and says, "How much time do I have left?" Making the guy on the back of the room, I keep saying guy like women aren't involved, making the people in the back of the room say, "You're actually out of time 10 minutes ago."
Kim: It can be delicate.
Jim: It can be delicate. That's exactly right. Sometimes, what do you do when it's passionate? What do you do when the speaker is coveted and is on some topic that the group is really into and you have to stop this to put the second speaker up or the following speaker up? Number one, it's hard to stop the topic that's ongoing. Number two, I do not want to be the speaker who's getting up to follow the popular person to go from there.
Kim: Yes, good point. I've had that happen a couple of times. I've been that person a couple of times, and how I handle it as a speaker is " Boy, that was really good. I hope we can get you back again real soon and look at more of this." That way you've made a tentative promise to extend the speaker's talk. You've told the people in the room that you know this is interesting and you want them to hear more. At the same time, you've made the speaker aware that there's more meeting to do and we got to move on.
Jim: Okay. Let's just say you got the speaker upfront and he or she is doing a great job and they're staying on time, but you've got the vendors in the back of the room. The entire time they've been talking and hawking bee supplies and explaining how this new top feeder works all in a quiet hubbub. What do you look for in a place for vendors?
Kim: If you got a big enough meeting to have vendors, a lot of us county meetings, and even some state meetings, often don't have vendors because there's just not big enough. If you got vendors in the back of the room, two things that I always tried to do is before the meeting started, was to talk to each vendor and let them know that the acoustics in this room are such that I can hear you better than I can hear the speaker if I'm sitting in the audience, so please try and keep it down.
The other thing is that if you won't keep it down, I will call you out. I'm going to say "John, back there, I know what you're doing is important, but we got to hear this guy talk," and I'm going to point you out because it's really disruptive and these people paid to be here.
Jim: Who's paid to be there? The speakers?
Kim: No, the people listening.
Jim: Yes, but the vendors paid to be there too.
Kim: I know, but they're making money. The people who are sitting in the audience are the people who pay to be there.
Jim: If you make them stop selling supplies, they're not making money. I'm being the devil's advocate here, obviously. I'm looking at this from the vendor standpoint.
Kim: That's good. I've been a vendor, but how I look at it is I'm going to give you all the time you're going to need to talk to all of these people before the meeting, at the break, at lunch, at the afternoon break, and maybe even after the meeting. If you can't do what you're going to do, then hand out a catalog and have them call you.
Jim: You know what I've seen vendors do that are very aggressive and large is have a table, just like you're talking about, and follow all the rules of the meeting. Stay quiet, but quietly tell the customer, we have a trailer in the parking lot with everything in it, go out there and you can get everything you want and put it right in your car and come back to the meeting.
Jim: They essentially have a two-tier operation. This operation inside, and then the larger inventory supply distribution out in the parking lot.
Kim: Yes. I know that meeting. I know those vendors. I'm going to be honest from a meeting planner's perspective, that couldn't be better.
Jim: Yes. I like it.
Kim: You're given the people who are attending the meeting every opportunity possible to talk to the people who are making this stuff and selling this stuff, and you can go outside and take a look at it and hang onto it and sit on it or whatever. At the same time, the people inside aren't being distracted.
Jim: We have rumbled around now for almost 20 minutes, really discussing intensely everything and finalizing nothing. Just as we close, you got bullet points for things that are good or things that are bad?
Kim: I think we've hit most of them. Is the facility adequate? Is the faccility available? Is the facility affordable? How many people are you going to have to make there to pay for this facility so that you don't go broke? Are the amenities working? Do you have enough toilets? Do you have a place to have coffee? Do you have a place where people can go outside and talk or something like that? Is the sound system working and do you have a place for vendors? What have I missed?
Jim: Then there's those things that on the way home from the meeting, you are just exhausted. Who would've believed that a beekeeper would have a heart attack at a bee meeting. Who would've believed that on that Saturday morning, the company's chicken fryer would burn out and they would not be able to bring chicken to the meeting. who knew that it was going be eight inches of snow by lunch? On those meeting days, you just do whatever it takes to get through one of the longest days of your life, and on the way home, I don't know what I learned from that, but we'll do something different next year. Have you been there in those kind of situations?
Kim: I have. You get home and there's a bottle of Johnny Walker Black sitting in the counter.
Jim: The elixir of life.
Kim: I'm kind of thinking, "At least nobody died." [laughs]
Jim: Well, not normally. All right, Kim, a good meeting is a good thing. A bad meeting is not as good as a good meeting, but I'd rather have a bad meeting than no meeting. I love it. We didn't talk about Zooming. We'll do that later because Zooming and the streaming classes have added an entire new dimension. A possibility of a big meeting.
Kim: Perfect word. Dimension.
Jim: We'll do that later.
Kim: Okay. I hope we've given you folks something to think about. There's a million things to think about when you're planning a meeting, and we've touched on, I don't know, 25 of them. If you're in charge of meetings starting now or next fall or whenever, put your head down now because you've got a lot of planning to do.
Jim: If you got any questions, just comment, and when you comment, ask for Kim. He knows everything about me.
Kim: Sure he does. Okay, I'll see you next time, Jim.
Jim: Thank you, Kim. Bye-bye.
[00:21:44] [END OF AUDIO]