Opinion by Allan McNew

Recently I went to a local meeting featuring three Republican candidates who were slated to speak, it was packed and I had to bring in a chair from another room. The sponsoring group is very active and fully functional – they do good work.
The meeting was in a separate room at a restaurant, but there were over ten people (16?) present in the room who, I found on the way out, were having a birthday dinner / party while the meeting was going on.
After a while I raised my hand and the candidate acknowledged me. I said “I came here to hear what you have to say, I want to hear what all the candidates have to say, but there are people here who think this is social hour, speaking at full level and I can’t make out what you are saying. It’s not just this meeting, but nearly every meeting (regardless of group) I go to. I’m not wasting any more of my time here today, have a good one.”
And, I left.
Any meetings should allow only people participating in the meeting to be present. If a property / business owner insists on packing in people who have no interest in the meeting a new place needs to be found.
People who chatter on during meetings, often pointing at their cell phone screens, need to understand they are being rude to the speaker and the audience who wants to hear the speaker – will they please take their conversation outside?
If there is opportunity for a meal, it should be before the programmed meeting itself. People eating during a program are distracted by eating and it is natural to socialize while eating. As well, people who are hungry while waiting for their meal will be thinking about getting their plate, not meeting content.
It is my observation that about one and a half hours into a meeting the attendees get restless, begin talking among themselves regardless of program content or speaker and begin leaving. Before that time the meeting should be called with open discussion available after the meeting.
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