2017 ACB Membership Seminar Discusses Successful Meetings

compiled by Ardis Bazyn

The theme for this year’s seminar was “How to Hold Successful Meetings.” The first panel topic was “Best Practices for Successful Meetings.” Speakers Donna Pomerantz, Kim Charlson, and Marsha Farrow suggested adding birthday greetings, networking time, personal advocacy stories, a welcoming or greeting committee, and involving everyone in the meeting — inclusion, good placement and timing of topics in meeting, and a tiered process for meeting notification (email and phone call).  Planning topics and speakers in advance, and follow-up with visitors and prospective members, were important suggestions. They also mentioned having a timed agenda and holding an end-of-meeting activity to keep members at meeting (selling candy bars, a 50-50 raffle, or door prizes). A place for socialization after the meeting would also work well.
The second panel topic was “Tips on Procedures and Etiquette at Meetings.” Panelists Denny Huff, Doug Powell, and Sue Ammeter suggested proper conference call control (ability to drop someone off if disruptive, using Conference Call Pro). For chapters that cover a large geographical area, conference calls are useful and save transportation costs. Other suggestions were starting and ending meetings on time, asking for recognition before speaking, keeping on topic, taking and sharing notes, allowing people to report out, no side conversations, reminding people of tasks, giving action announcements first and less interesting topics last, asking interrupters to add other information at the end, and developing a committee to report on the discussion topic later. The leader should be on calls early. To get more people involved, send out multiple reminders, including one the day before the meeting. Try to get someone new involved each meeting. Try Dial My Call (dialmycall.com) for committee calls. A speakerphone with Bluetooth will help with noise when calling via cell phone. Call on specific people to expedite call time. Keep the meeting moving, even when people come or leave early.
The Affiliate Growth Award for the largest percentage of growth went to the Visually Impaired Veterans of America. The Utah Council of the Blind won the Affiliate Growth Award for the highest number of new members. The North Dakota Association of the Blind had the third largest increase in membership growth. Utah added some programs using a grant to grow the organization. Teacher trainer programs were used at senior centers, with doctors’ recommendations, and word of mouth.
For copies of this year’s handouts, contact the ACB national office at 1-800-424-8666.
The next membership focus call will be held Sunday, Oct. 29 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern; the topic will be “Marketing Your Affiliate.” This will be a joint call with the public relations committee. The dial-in number is (712) 775-7000, and the passcode is 640009#.