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A good meeting: preparation, organization and coffee.

It seems every spring we talk about the abundance of meetings in the nonwovens industry, questions the necessity of such a multitude and usually conclude that each serves its purpose for a select audience. This year, this is not another editorial about how many meetings there are and how to get rid of them. As the meeting season hits and we have spent the past few months traveling the world covering various conferences, it seems fitting to reflect on what is good and bad about meetings.

Obviously the most important part of meetings happens before the meeting. The preparation and research that goes into choosing a facility, coordinating visual aids and--in the case of the recent EDANA general meeting--translators for the multi-lingual audience, recruiting speakers and promoting the conference to potential attendees all add to the success of the conference.

The caliber--and dependability--of the speakers involved also plays a role in the pre-conference stages. INDA recently did a wonderful job at coordinating two days of government speakers--notorious for not showing up for speaking engagements--that were interesting, informative and informed about the issue that impacted nonwovens.

Organization at the meeting is just as important, however. TAPPI has typically been praised for its choice of the Marco Island resort for its TAPPI Nonwovens Conference; the beautiful surroundings without a doubt have added to the draw of the conference (ironically next year the conference moves to Atlanta, GA before returning to Florida in 1994 and 1995). This year's conference was also praised for the high quality of its technical papers, yet the annual golf tournament was loosely organized and much was left to the resort's golf pro instead of an association representative.

Organization also means other little things, like having coffee available in the morning before the meeting starts and making sure meeting facilities are near restrooms and available phones. Granted, these are all little things, but they are what people remember. EDANA did an excellent job at its general meeting in Munich last month, with coffee service throughout the day, a well-organized program despite the fact that the conference took place simultaneously in English and German and a scenic cocktail party, complete with Bavarian entertainment.

Every salesperson knows the old adage, "if we do something wrong, tell us. If we do something right, tell others," but unfortunately that's not always the way it works. The same is true for meetings, where attendance may reflect any number of elements. In these poor economic times where competition is abundant, meetings organizers should remember it's the little things that counts. You will never please all of the people all of the time. Having a meeting on the French Riviera or in a fancy Florida resort will make some people happy, but other will complain about the expense and the lack of business environment. By keeping certain guidelines in mind--preparation, organization, coffee and preferably a beach--you can please most of the people most of the time.
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Title Annotation:pros and cons of meetings in nonwoven fabrics industry
Author:Noonan, Ellen
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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