Management: How to run a meeting

Meetings are essential in any business, including farming – but they need to be well-run to be effective.

In this new series, we offer some guidelines on how to run a better organisation. Part one deals with how to run a meeting.

Chairperson
This person is essential for any meeting. Their function is to see that the rules are followed, ensure that everyone has a chance to speak, and prevent one person from dominating the discussion.

It is vital to appoint the right chairperson. You need to choose someone who:

  • Understands the organisation well.
  • Is well-spoken and knows how to hold a meeting.
  • Is pleasant, but firm.
  • Doesn’t talk too much or try to influence people. A chairperson is there to guide the meeting, not to dominate it.

The chairperson has several important tasks during the meeting. These include:

  • Welcoming everybody.
  • Checking that the meeting has a quorum – the minimum number of people present to make decisions. This number is decided in the rules of your organisation.
  • Calling for apologies from absentees.
  • Asking members at the beginning if there are any additional items for the agenda.
  • Making sure the rules are followed and that order is kept.
  • Seeing that members keep to the subject being discussed.
  • Giving people with different opinions an equal chance to speak.
  • Deciding when a vote is needed.
  • Thanking everyone and closing the meeting.
  • During the meeting, delegates should speak to each other through the chairperson, who should be addressed as “Mr Chair” or “Madam Chair”.
  • Thus, a person might say, “Mr Chair, I agree with John that the tractor needs servicing. May I suggest that Peter organise this for us?”
  • This system helps to keep order, allow everyone to follow the discussion, and prevent arguments.
  • If the chairperson is not present, the vice-chairperson or secretary can lead the meeting.
  • The chairperson represents the organisation at meetings with other organisations.

The secreatry

  • This person should be a good organiser. The secretary must:
  • Organise the venue, and arrange for paper, pens and something to eat and drink if necessary. Water should be provided for the meeting room.
  • Keep minutes(short  notes of what is decided at each meeting) and send these to members afterwards.
  • Send members notices of when the next meeting is due (the agenda should be included with this).
  • Keep a list of members.
  • Make sure that all members attending the meeting sign the register.
  • Keep copies of all letters, emails and notes.
  • The secretary may also act as treasurer (see below).

Treasurer

  • This person is responsible for the organisation’s money matters. Their tasks include:
  • Seeing that all money is spent correctly.
  • Keeping a record of finances (cash-book, cheque book, receipt books, and so on).
  • Collecting membership fees and issuing receipts.

In the next issue, we’ll discuss how to take minutes and draw up an agenda.

Source: The Directorate Communication of the Department of Agriculture in co-operation with Rikki Abbott of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture.