In the previous issue, we examined the duties of the chairperson, secretary and treasurer. This week, we take a closer look at the procedure of the meeting itself.
The first step is to inform members about the meeting. The secretary should send out notices by email or letter several weeks beforehand setting out the date, time and venue, as well as the agenda (see below).
Emergency meetings can be held at much shorter notice if required, but you should avoid making this a habit as it is disruptive and can lead to poor planning.
The members should study the agenda before the meeting, and prepare any items they want to discuss.
If a member cannot attend, he or she should apologise to the secretary.
This is recorded in the minutes. A member who doesn’t send an apology is recorded as absent.
This is the list of matters to be discussed at the meeting, written out in the order in which they will take place. Usually, the most important issues come first. The secretary writes out the agenda after speaking to the chairperson.
At the meeting itself, only the chairperson is allowed to change the order of the agenda – and the members must agree to this.
These are a record of what takes place at the meeting and are written out by the secretary. The minutes should contain the date, place, names of members present (or absent), and a brief summary of the issues, final decisions and the actions that members are expected to take.
There is no need to write out the discussions word for word. The secretary should take notes during the meeting, type them up neatly afterwards and email, post or hand them to members – even those who didn’t attend.
It’s important to do this as soon as possible after the meeting while the details are still fresh in everyone’s mind. At the start of the next meeting, the chairperson asks whether these minutes (of the previous meeting) are accurate. He should have a copy of them in front of him.
If everyone agrees that they are, the chairperson signs them. If there are mistakes, these are corrected before the minutes are signed.
Source: The Directorate of Communication, Department of Agriculture, in co-operation with Rikki Abbott of the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture.
• The chairperson opens the meeting and decides whether there is a quorum – enough people from the organisation present for the meeting to proceed.
• The minutes of the previous meeting are accepted and signed (after corrections if necessary).
• Any item in the minutes of the previous meeting that still needs attention should be discussed under “Matters arising from the minutes”.
• The chairperson deals with each subject in the order in which it appears on the agenda. He or she should say as little as possible and only lead the meeting.
• The treasurer should report on the finances of the organisation under “Financial report”.
• A subject should be fully discussed before a final decision is taken.
• The chairperson decides when to stop discussions on a matter.
• Only one member may speak at a time. If a member wishes to address another member, he or she should speak through the chairperson (see last week’s article).
• Members should vote about a matter before a decision is taken. They can vote by putting up their hands or by ballot (secretly on paper).
• If an equal number of people vote for and against a matter, the chairperson may make the final decision. This is called the “deciding vote”.
• If members are rude or disrupt the meeting, the chairperson has the right to ask them to leave.
• At the end of the meeting, the date of the next meeting is decided, and the chairperson declares the meeting closed.