Sunday, January 27, 2013

An Annual Meeting "Who's Who"

Over the past 40 years, I have attended dozens and dozens of annual meetings. I’ve attended town budget meetings, non-profit organization meetings, company business meetings, and church annual meetings. Just this morning, I attended my first annual meeting at the church we recently started attending. And it occurred to me during that meeting how every meeting of this kind seems to attract certain types. So here is a listing and description of the “Who’s Who” of pretty much every financial, annual, and/or business meeting that you may be privileged to attend. Not every meeting will contain all of these parties, but if you look closely, I’m sure you’ll be able to recognize at least a few.

The Robert’s Ruler
This person is easily recognizable because within the first few minutes of the meeting, he or she will interrupt the meeting moderator by announcing loudly, “Point of order! Point of order!” The Robert’s Ruler is often either a former moderator of the organization at hand or the current moderator, president, or chairman of another organization. The Robert’s Ruler can be relied upon to bog down the meeting with obscure points of procedure which have little or no actual impact on the point at hand, but which will successfully derail the discussion for large blocks of time.

The Minutiae Person
This person also manages to derail the discussion for large blocks of time by questioning verbiage or minor (often irrelevant) details, discussing obvious (and minor) typographical errors in past meeting minutes, and proposing alternate wording for multiple sections of text. He or she can easily be recognized by arriving at the meeting with a copy of the annual report already highlighted in multiple colors and marked up with red pen.

The Discusser/The Rabble Rouser
The Discusser and the Rabble Rouser are somewhat similar in action but very different in motivation. They both raise numerous questions during the meeting about every point under discussion. However, the Discusser raises them because he or she has not read any of the previously distributed minutes, agendas, or reports prior to the meeting and is attempting to get up to speed on all the issues, whereas the Rabble Rouser asks questions fully intending to spark heated debate, particularly about hotly contested topics.

Neither the Discusser nor the Rabble Rouser ever actually serves on a committee.

The Bloviator
The Bloviator is generally the first to respond to the Discusser’s and the Rabble Rouser’s comments. His or her reply usually begins with a personal anecdote often including words such as, “When I was on the committee,” “When I was the moderator,” or “When we did similar work on my house.” The anecdote lasts anywhere for 5 to 15 minutes, and usually involves multiple reassurances that he or she is almost finished.

The Bloviator’s eventual point is usually completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

The Over-Explainer
The Over-Explainer also responds to the Discusser’s and Rabble-Rouser’s comments in a somewhat long-winded manner, and therefore is occasionally confused with the Bloviator. However, after the 15 minutes of explanation from the Over-Explainer, you feel like you were at all of the relevant committee meetings, whereas after 15 minutes from the Bloviator, you’re no longer sure what it was the committee was even supposed to be doing.

The Motion-Maker
There are two types of Motion-Makers: Explanatory Movers and So Movers. The Explanatory Mover explains his or her motion in great detail, often repeating verbatim what the moderator has just said. For example, if the moderator asks, “Do I hear a motion to strike the existing Bylaw Number 3.05 Section 5C Subsection 8.1 regarding the maintenance and upkeep of the organization’s collection of kadiddlesloopers and replace it with the proposed text that was just read by the Clerk?”, the Explanatory Mover will reply, “Move that we strike the existing Bylaw Number 3.05 Section 5C Subsection 8.1 regarding the maintenance and upkeep of the organization’s collection of kadiddlesloopers and replace it with the proposed text that was just read by the Clerk.”

The So Mover will simply say, “So moved.”

The Seconder
The seconder rarely discusses any issues and never makes a motion. But he or she is always the first to second any other motion, usually in a bored or vaguely annoyed tone of voice, and invariably by saying merely the word, “Second.”

The Peacemaker
The Peacemaker is occasionally a general member of the voting body, but most often he or she is either the Moderator or the Clerk. The Peacemaker diplomatically summarizes the long-winded questions of the Discusser and the Rabble Rouser, gently wrests the microphone away from the Bloviator and the Over-Explainer, and calmly overrules the Robert’s Ruler when necessary. A good Peacemaker can significant decrease the time of the meeting and increase its effectiveness.

Multiple Titles
The Robert’s Ruler may also be the Motion Maker, although a Robert’s Ruler who is also a Motion Maker will invariably be an Explanatory Mover, never a So Mover. A Robert’s Ruler is nearly always also an Over-Explainer, unless he or she formerly served on the committee whose report is currently under discussion, in which case he or she will be a Bloviator.

A Minutiae Person is occasionally also a Bloviator. Minutiae People sometimes become Bloviators with age. Bloviators never become Minutiae People.

A Discusser is never a Mover, but may be a Seconder.

Rabble Rousers are invariably married to Peacemakers, and vice versa.


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