SAA’s Annual Meeting: Before “Where are we going?”, there’s “Where have we been?”

Heads up! Today’s guest blogger is Kathy Marquis, co-chair of SAA’s hard-working Annual Meeting Task Force. Take note of her opening comment about roundtable meetings. The broader question is … how should our Annual Meeting week be structured to best serve attendees? Happy reading– Jackie

The AMTF has taken a close look at the last sixteen Annual Meeting schedules (1997-2012), and we’d like to highlight one finding in particular: the surprising impact that the timing of Roundtable meetings (on Wednesdays) has had on the meeting schedule overall. Read on for more background, and then send us your thoughts!

Our Content subcommittee amassed detailed data–and drew some interesting conclusions–on how the structure of our meetings has evolved.  Group members Carl Van Ness (chair), Jacqueline Chapman, Courtney Chartier, Jelain Chubb, Jennifer Johnson, and Ben Primer looked at the number of sessions, presenters, and attendees, as well as length and number of breaks, plenaries, and group meetings, the networking opportunities at breaks and social events, proposal deadlines, and experiments with new types of communication such as lightning sessions. Whew. Lots of work.

Carl has posted their report to the AMTF blog. Sample findings:

  •  The move of roundtable meetings to Wednesday has affected many other timing issues throughout the week
  • Networking and informal gathering time has increased
  • The meeting week has gotten longer (we all already knew that one!)

He concludes, “In short, this one decision [roundtables] had major repercussions that were not limited to the meeting calendar.  As the task force moves forward with its recommendations, we need to be mindful of how a change in one area may produce unintended consequences in another area.”

You can even satisfy your inner geek and look at the data, which is linked to the post. The group’s next project is a survey of other professional associations to find out how their meetings are structured–and why. Our other subgroups–Meeting Model, Online Access, and Social Responsibility–will also be posting soon about what they are discovering as we dig into where we’ve been and suggest where our meetings will be going in the future.

As always, we eagerly anticipate your feedback! This is your Annual Meeting. Help us make it the best one possible.

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