The President Ponders…
October 4, 2021
When the National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP) Convention, September 9-11, 2021, was over, I took a mental break from all things parliamentary. This was NAP’s first virtual convention and it was a major learning experience for everyone.
I had the opportunity to be in the location where the virtual event originated and I have thank Steve Britton, PRP, and most recent MSAP president for driving to Kansas City where the convention happened. Steve, as Chair of the NAP Bylaws Committee needed to be there as a major presenter in the NAP business meeting. As an NAP Bylaws Committee member I tagged along to serve as needed. When Steve invited me to ride to the Kansas City Airport Hilton I was less than enthusiastic. It’s a twelve hour drive from southeast Michigan and during the pandemic I have hardly been out and about.
But, it was a highlight of my parliamentary life. I learned so much about virtual meetings by seeing it in person. While I’ve done Zoom meetings for small groups, usually under 30, I had no idea of the logistic challenges of a meeting with 650 participants.
Here are some of my learnings:
1.It can be helpful to have two parliamentarians, one focused on the electronic aspects of the meeting while the other does the more traditional work of advising the president. It is best if parliamentarian(s) are in the same physical room with the presiding officer.
2.Auxiliary workers who are, if possible, in the same physical room, can be very important in managing the meeting. Auxiliary workers can monitor everything from voting to keeping track of the Chat to seeing that the presiding officer has water, tissues, or whatever she needs.
3.Members should be muted except when allowed to speak and videos turned off help the internet connection.
4.Obtaining the floor can be an issue.
5.Interrupting motions can be a challenge.
6.Technical issues for meeting participants takes a whole team to manage. How is the voting app set up? Do members remember to unmute when they can speak? How much delay time needs to be allowed for members to unmute and show their faces? What about troubling internet issues or power outages in stormy weather?
7.Some business may take more time than expected, particularly when 600 people are voting.
8.Technical expertise is essential, particularly for voting and for running the meeting itself.
9.Two computers can be better than one. I found that using my iPhone for voting and my computer for following the meeting worked well.
We are all learning for leading every time we attend a meeting. I look forward to using this learning in the leading experiences that are in my future. What are you learning in every meeting you attend?
Gretchen Denton, PRP
President, Michigan State Association of Parliamentarians
May 10, 2021
Learning for Leading—Video Conference Platforms
The May flowers promised by April showers are a feast for our winter-weary eyes and even the grass takes on a green glow (before we tire of weekly mowing). Though May tends to be a busy month for organizations, take time to enjoy whatever pleases your eyes these days.
A year ago we were staying home in our lounge wear, putting on a presentable top only when we had a Zoom meeting. Many of us continue Zooming and now we know that the National Association of Parliamentarians will be having its biennial convention virtually in September. It is too early to know if virtual meetings will become the norm for organizations but some of us are glad to participate in committee meetings from our bedroom, office, or other at-home space.
Yesterday I read an article (Science News, pp. 22-26, April 24, 2021) with the title “What Took the Videophone so Long to Catch on?” The article outlined the history of video communication beginning with a 1927 prototype and the unrealized hope off AT&T researchers that “the 1990’s will be the video communication decade.” There were forays into the field with picture phones but it took the introduction of Skype and the growth of high-speed internet connection in homes to make widespread video-conferencing possible.
Earlier, there were mixed feelings about appearing on a screen, “I’ll have to have my make-up on.” But when the pandemic landed we adapted fast to this new way of seeing our friends—and we know how to turn off the video camera when we aren’t our most photogenic.
Will the use of video-conference platforms continue when we can be out and about? Or will we continue to realize the versatility and convenience of meeting across the miles virtually? We will see.
In the meantime, we explore parliamentary issues that are raised with this changed meeting platform:
Plus, there’s learning about promoting the softer-side of meetings like getting acquainted and welcoming visitors. Once again, we Michigan parliamentarians are engaged in studying and adapting to new procedures and possibilities. We continue be be Learning for Leading and making a difference in all the organizations we know and love, whether we are meeting virtually or in-person.
Adjourning for now,
Gretchen Denton, PRP
Michigan State Association of Parliamentarians
President Gretchen Denton
First Vice- President Francis Jackson
Second Vice-President Barbara Bonsignore
Recording Secretary Kristine Ranger
Treasurer Diane Schrift
Directors Taniqua Carter-Brown, Elizabeth Haynes, Laurie Marshall
Corresponding Secretary Mary Ann Rosenberger
Historian Lois Shulman
Parliamentarian Joan Price
Bylaws and Standing Rules Taniqua Carter-Brown
Membership and Extension Laurie Marshall
Education Barbara Bonsignore
Communications Carolyn Stubbs
Budget and Finance Susan Schneberger
Youth Joyce Brown-Watkins
Publication Vivian Tansil
State Coordinating Francis Jackson
Nominating Todd Ellis
Auditor Blinda Baker
Detroit Jewel Johnson Jones
Genesee Area Erica Shifflet-Chila
Kalamazoo Parliamentary Law Laurie Marshall
Louise Saks Parliamentary Elizabeth Haynes
MI Unit of Registered Parliamentarians Frances Jackson