How To: Develop a Meeting Strategy

Standardization News

How To: Develop a Meeting Strategy

Choosing the type of meeting that works best for your committee is critical.

In recent months, ASTM International has been excited to see the return of in-person meetings. However, there are several event formats that can address the diverse needs of the individuals who contribute to ASTM’s work. Today, a range of options are becoming part of the “new normal” of technical committee meetings.

Before developing a meeting strategy, the first step is to identify the needs and concerns of stakeholders. In the past, it was common for many committees to meet in person twice per year. With the wide number of formats now in use, committees are considering all available options. Some leaders have polled their membership or have even coordinated with staff managers to generate member surveys. This process has helped provide an understanding of the desire for in-person meetings, virtual meetings, hybrid meetings, or other formats.

In-person events are a well-known format, and their return has been welcomed by many people. The May/June 2022 installment of “How To” explored the assorted benefits of in-person meetings, which facilitate networking, relationship-building, side meetings, and staff engagement. Even so, virtual meetings also have advantages. Remote events offer convenience, cost savings, and ease of access, all of which are highly valued in this era. Given the useful elements of each format, some committees are electing to combine both strategies, alternating between in-person/hybrid and virtual meetings throughout the year.

Hybrid events offer another approach, combining elements of virtual and in-person meetings. Features such as conference calls and Webex video conferencing have made it easier to allow remote or international participants to attend, all while still enabling participants to meet on-site if they choose to do so.

In the end, it is important for committees to decide what works best for them based on their activity level, their member base, and their work. Because committees all have their own culture, there is no one-size-fits-all format. Understanding the needs of stakeholders and leaders can be a key part of meeting strategy discussion and will help lead to events that are rewarding for everyone involved. ■


ASTM International’s Regulations contain a number of provisions related to negative votes. Sections 11.4 in particular contains the rules for how a subcommittee should handle such cases.

11.4 Subcommittee Handling of Negative Votes

11.4.1 — A negative vote may be withdrawn by the negative voter at any time, unless the item is removed from ballot. A withdrawn negative vote allows the item to proceed, in the absence of an unresolved or a persuasive negative vote. A withdrawn negative vote is counted as affirmative unless specified by the voter as an abstention.

11.4.2 — Negative votes received on subcommittee ballots shall be acted upon either (1) at a meeting of the subcommittee, or (2) by ballot of the subcommittee. Section 11.1.1 provides for authorization of subcommittee ballots on negative votes. (For motions for handling negative votes see Section 11.4.3). The written statements accompanying the negative votes are available to the subcommittee members prior to a subcommittee action on those negative votes. — The subcommittee ballot includes the date and place of the next committee meeting. — If the negative vote is submitted to a subcommittee ballot for disposition, there is no percent return requirement and negative votes do not require written statements or further consideration. The written statement accompanying each negative vote, as submitted in the ballot return, and the reasons for recommending the negative vote be found not persuasive or not related shall be included in the ballot.

11.4.3 Motions for Handling Negative Votes: General — All motions for handling negative votes shall include an explanation of the reasons for the action. Not Related Motions — A motion at a meeting, or via ballot, to find a negative vote not related to the item being balloted requires an affirmative vote of at least two thirds of the combined affirmative and negative votes cast by the official voting members. Negative votes found to be not related shall not be factored into the percent affirmative requirements for consensus. The subcommittee shall treat the unrelated negative as an item of new business. Not Persuasive Motions — A motion at a meeting, or via ballot, to find a negative vote not persuasive requires an affirmative vote of at least two thirds of the combined affirmative and negative votes cast by the official voting members. If the motion or ballot fails, the balloted item is removed from the ballot.

11.4.4 Removal of Item from Ballot: — An item is removed from ballot if the subcommittee taking action does not offer a motion to declare the negative vote not persuasive or not related. —  In response to a negative vote, an item may be removed from ballot by agreement of the task group chair and subcommittee chair for rework and reballot before the next meeting.

11.4.5 Documentation of Actions on Negatives — Actions on all negative votes including the vote record and accompanying subcommittee reasons shall be recorded in the subcommittee minutes. The negative voters shall be notified of these actions. ■

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