Conducting Effective Meetings
One of your roles as a chapter leader will be to lead meetings. Nothing is worse than having to sit through a time consuming, ineffective meeting – don’t let this happen to you! Here are some ways to make sure that your meetings are effective!
- Always be prepared – It works for the Boy Scouts, and it will work for you. What does this mean?
- Prepare an agenda and share it with the other participants prior to the meeting. An agenda can improve attendance, improve the quality of member participation, and assure relevance of the program content to member interests. Want some ideas for putting together an effective agenda? Here are some tips for putting an agenda.
- Start the meeting on time – This shows that you value your members’ time. It will also encourage everyone else to show up to the meeting on time. A meeting that starts on time is a sign that the rest of the meeting has a good chance of being businesslike, productive and ending on time. The next step, of course, is to keep the meeting running on time. Don’t be afraid to limit debate if the discussion strays from the subject at hand. End the meeting on time. This reiterates that you value everyone’s time, including your own. Offer time after the meeting for networking and socializing.
- Be a good facilitator – Make sure that everyone has an opportunity to participate in discussions. Small group discussions on contentious or strategic issues can encourage more participation.
- Parliamentary Procedure – Use Parliamentary Procedure guidelines in your meetings. Your association can decide how strictly to follow these rules. A good resource is Robert’s Rules of Order, which can be found easily in bookstores. It’s also on the web at: www.robertsrules.com.
- Minutes – Make sure that minutes are taken at all chapter meetings and are prepared for review at the next meeting. Need help deciding what goes in the minutes? Here are some resources. Meeting minutes.doc
- The President calls the meeting to order on time – every time.
- A meeting that starts on time is a sign that the rest of the meeting as a good chance of being businesslike, productive and ending on time.
- A board meeting is a business meeting that should be conducted in a businesslike manner. As soon as the meeting is called to order, socializing should end and business should begin.
- Call the roll – Note in the minutes who is present and who is absent. (This is necessary for proof of a quorum). Note in the minutes who arrives late to the meeting to encourage on-time attendance at the next meeting.
- Recognize visitors – Take a moment to introduce any visitors in the room to the board. Decide prior to the meeting if the visitors role is to listen quietly, or if they should take a more vocal role.
- Approve the agenda – Ask board members to submit agenda items in advance. Set a deadline. Last minute agenda changes often produce poor discussion.
- Prioritize agenda items – Don’t spend time on routine reports. Send them out in advance and ask at the board meeting if there are any questions. Items such as approval of the minutes, the financial report and the chapter executive’s report should be grouped together as a consent agenda. This allows more time for strategic discussion at the board meetings.
Presentation of reports to the board
- Approve minutes of the last meeting – Minutes are the official record of board actions. Approval can be handled quickly, but the importance of the minutes should not be taken lightly. Scrutinize them before the meeting and correct errors before the board approves the minutes.
- Minutes should not be a blow-by-blow account of discussion, but should be clear and concise. Only official actions should be recorded – not arguments or discussions that precede the vote.
- Review the financial report – Your financial condition affects the actions you take in the rest of the meeting, so the financial report should be reviewed early, including current income and expenditures. The finance report should not include discussions about where to find new revenue or how much surplus revenue you should maintain. Those items can be handled under new business.
- The chapter executive’s role – The chapter executive should be active throughout the meeting, recommending specific actions, providing background on issues and acting as a resource for the board. Chapter executive input is vital to a good meeting.
- Consider Unfinished Business – These are items that were not completely disposed of at a previous meeting, such as motions tabled or actions interrupted by adjournment or intentionally carried over for discussion or action at the current meeting.
- Consider New Business – It’s time to consider new business motions in response to board members’ requests and information heard by the board. Reserve time-consuming issues for special board meetings where the board can focus its efforts on just one topic.
- Make announcements – The business of the board is completed and anything at this spot on the agenda is purely informational and does not require action. Announce future board meetings and activities.
- Adjourn the meeting – A motion, second and a majority vote are required to adjourn the meeting. The board as a whole must decide when its business is completed.
- Send the meeting outcomes and the next agenda promptly – Set standards for when the meeting outcomes and the next meeting agenda must be provided to the board. Ask board members to review the meeting outcomes upon receipt and notify the chapter executive or secretary of changes before the next meeting.
Tips for leading the meeting
- Encourage participation of all board members in discussions
- Direct the board toward resolution of outstanding issues
- Be an effective listener. Do not dominate the discussions, or allow others to dominate.
Sources: CPCU Society and Gary Leeper, executive director, RMGCSA