On the opening day of #MACoCon, Frederick County Council Member Jessica Fitzwater welcomed the audience to “Academy Core: Conducting Effective Meetings”. Council Member Fitzwater then introduced speaker Jack “Jay” Gallo. In his early twenties, Gallo stepped into the role of Mayor of New Windsor where he held the role for eight years. He is the past President of Maryland Municipal League, a certified parliamentarian, and the current Attorney for Taneytown, Rising Sun, Barnesville, and Poolesville.
Gallo captivated the audience with his humor as he went through what exactly it means to conduct an effective meeting. From building an agenda to providing a structure for decision-making, he emphasized that there are many steps in ensuring a meeting is efficient and effective for all participants.
Tips on Effective Meetings:
- If you can do it in an email instead of a meeting, do it! It will save everyone time preparing for the meeting and there will not be time wasted on side conversations.
- Have respect for other people’s time. Do your prep work before the meeting, come prepared and know what the goals of the meeting are.
- Only include vital members in meetings, big meetings are not helpful and do not usually end up with solutions.
Gallo also explained that he likes to think of meetings as plays in theater. Everyone gets an agenda to ensure that they know what the purpose is, what the timing looks like, and what is going to be discussed – similar to a playbook. Everyone has done their preparations and knows their role in the meetings – similar to memorizing lines and knowing their part. Lastly, slip ups and/or mistakes may be noticeable to staff/meeting conductors, but not others in the meeting. They are unaware there was an error and take it to be a part of the meeting (or show).
Lastly, Gallo explained a very important tip to the audience. He explained that while the public required to be able to listen in to County Council meetings, it is not explicitly said that the public is welcome to participate. It is a Public Hearing not a “Public Speaking.”
The 2019 MACo Summer Conference – “Winds of Change” on August 14-17 focused on the changes being seen at every level of government and constituent services and how counties are harnessing that momentum for the good of all Marylanders.