Rotary is primarily about service to our community whether local or global.  Included in that are some really great things like friendships made, an active social scene, skill development and so much more.  What it is not about specifically is MEETINGS.  People do not go to Rotary to go to meetings but for some clubs that seems all they do and for some others they have a perception that their meetings do not contribute much in the way of value for members.
Or so it seems, and this has resulted in an apparent aversion to holding “meetings”.  But are meetings getting a bad rap?  Let's have a look ...
Let’s take the “meeting” of one breakfast club.  Their programme is 7 for 7.15am, finishing at 8.30am once a week and includes social time, breakfast, club meeting and speaker.
So, 1 ½ hours of meeting time …. apparently. Hang on a minute!  Let’s look at that again:
7-7-15:  Social/network time.  Having social time, particularly with a broad range of people with different backgrounds and interests is fantastic for a person’s physical and mental health.  It builds self-esteem, a sense of belonging and sets the positive, happy mood for the day and beyond.  Getting to know others builds new friendships that can last a lifetime.
7.15-7.35: Breakfast time.  The breakfast is a decent nutritional start to the day that many would not otherwise have enjoyed.  In addition to “fuelling up” by sharing a meal is a social event where thoughts, experiences, and emotions are shared with others building a sense of community, a chance to catch up and just talk about things that are interesting and not work (usually), and a chance to learn about the others at the table (of 10) in a very relaxed manner.
7.35-7.55: Club ‘business’ time.  Most join Rotary for the purpose of some form of community service which means the creation and performance of projects and events.  This time period updates members on what is planned, what has and is happening, how they can contribute and how it is, or has gone.  It is a chance to offer the opportunities of wider Rotary involvement and throughout provides members with the chance to ask questions, seek or provide clarifications and make suggestions of their own  Being aware of what is happening builds the club team and facilitates participation in the service and the social side of Rotary.
7.55-8: Light entertainment time.  This could be anything from a humour-filled segment to a member life snapshot but is always a bit of a highlight done well.
8-8.25: Guest speaker. Having someone donate their time to come and expose those present to the real-world life experiences from the position of someone who has been there builds connections with the community, expands perspectives and understanding of a topic and people will always learn something new and often, useful they can take away and apply.
8.25-8.30: Close time:  Literally the time used to round off the meeting, usually with something motivational and for all to take their good-byes of the others there as they depart.
So how much of the “meeting” was an actual meeting?  In this case … 20 minutes.  All the rest was that important social and motivational time we all crave.  This breakfast “meeting” was a chance to get outside of the daily personal and work routine and be revitalised, rebuild our zest for life and as a result fuel our ambitions for life.
The flip side when we do not, or rarely attend our Rotary club “meetings” includes negatives such as isolation, lack of motivation, less team-spirit, less friends, missed opportunities to grow as a person … do we really need to continue with the list?  Of course not.  Most Rotarians can get to a Rotary meeting and for those who find it difficult  there are other alternatives they can consider to remain a valued part of the club team, but these situations should be the exception and the club needs to go that little extra and above to make sure such members are included.
In summary, get along to your club meeting and if it is not as interesting, motivational, informative and enjoyable as you would like it to be, speak up and insist on change to a better meeting that people look forward to rather than the worst option of your not going along or the club defaulting to reducing meeting frequency is the misguided hope that those meetings will be better attended.
Meetings are a vital ingredient within the Rotary mix!  Make sure your club has fantastic meetings!