Gold Star Sensible Living

As a Silver Star cadet you have probably taken part in formal meetings to make routine as well as important decisions. How those meetings were run depended to a large extent on the chair. Chairing a meeting is not difficult but it does take some preparation, a little confidence and a lot of common sense.

Badly run meetings can be a painful experience and very unsatisfying for all who are present. A well run meeting, on the other hand, will be fair and orderly. Those attending the meeting will understand what is going on, have a change to voice their opinions and decisions taken will truly reflect the will of the majority of the group.

The chairperson is an integral and necessary part of any meeting. During the Gold Star Course we will be discussing ways to develop your skills a a chair.

Chairing a Meeting
Did You Know...?
Communication is required in all organizations to improve co-operation. Conferences and meetings help to improve communication -- they provide the opportunity to freely exchange ideas. You may participate as a member, as a secretary, or as a chair. Regardless of your role, you must prepare yourself and apply the skills required for successful communication.

Preparation for a Meeting
It is just as important for the chair to prepare carefully for a meeting as it is for a speaker to prepare his/her notes. Before you start, know where you are going. If you find yourself forced into the position of chair without knowing the purpose of the meeting and the programme, delay the meeting until you have had time to sort out what it is all about.

It is the chair's duty to see that all necessary preparations are made. Minutes, reports and other supporting papers relating to items on the agenda should be brought together. When necessary, a committee chair should be reminded that a report is expected from him/her.

A notice of meeting is usually given in writing and should state the place, date and time of the meeting along with the major items to be discussed. The practice of enclosing copes of reports, financial statements, or texts of resolutions with notices of meetings ensures that everyone has some time to think about the items of business in advance and prevents time-consuming explanations.

An agenda serves two purposes. First it lists all the routine business that is often forgotten at the beginning of a meeting. Second, it acts as a programme of what will follow after the routine items. A well planned and detailed agenda can be a great comfort to an inexperienced chair. The below sample gives you an idea of what a well planned agenda should look like.


    a. Approval of the agenda
    b. Approval of the minutes of the previous meeting
    c. Correspondence (read by the secretary)
    d. Reports
        (1) Chair
        (2) Other committee members
        (3) Special committees

    a. Item still under discussion at the adjournment of last meeting
    b. Item prompted by a decision made at the last meeting

    a. Most important or most urgent item
    b. Second most important or urgent item
    c. Other business


The Call to Order
If the meeting is quiet, a simple statement like "the meeting will please come to order" should be sufficient. If there is noise or confusion, you must first get everyone's attention with the gavel or some substitute.

Routine Business
Before the first item of routine business, it is a good idea to review the agenda for the membership. This is especially important if there are new numbers present. Let them know how the meeting will proceed and what will happen at each stage. If you are an inexperienced chair this can be another way to ease into the meeting.

Reading and Approval of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting
The minutes of the last meeting should be circulated beforehand to allow time for the members to review them. If this has not been done you can start by asking the secretary to please read the minutes fo the last meeting. When this is done, you must give the audience a change to make corrections by asking, "Are there any errors or omissions?". If none are offered, the minutes should formally be adopted and you can ask. "May I have a motion that the minutes be adopted as correct?" Any correction to the minutes should be verified before they are changed.

Correspondence consist of letters addressed to your organization, i.e.. letter of thanks, letter requesting the use of facilities in you unit, etc. The correspondence is normally read to the membership by the secretary. If there is any action to be taken from the correspondence, it should appear as an item under "New Business".
Would you believe...?
"Rules of order" and "parliamentary procedure" are general names given to the set of rules, forms, and traditions that have been developed to govern meetings.

As executive members of your organization, the various office holders (president, treasurer, etc..) are responsible to the entire membership and should report on their activities.

This in the appropriate time to hear from the different committees. In calling for committee reports, the chair should be brief. "Cpl MacLean will now read the annual inspection committee report." If the report contains recommendations for some action, these recommendations should be set out, item by item, and voted on. When each report is complete, courtesy dictates that the chair thank the committees for their good work.

Old Business Arising From the Previous Meeting
This may involve matters mentioned in minutes or items that have been recorded or postponed from a previous meeting, and should be dealt with before proceeding with any new business. Keep a clear distinction between old and new business.

New Business
This area demands time and preparation on the part of the chair. Matters to be discussed should be listed in advance. Some constitutions provide that new business be submitted in writing, 48 hours before the meeting, in order to be included. This procedure also saves time, since the chair can arrange to have the necessary information or answers available for the general meeting, allowing the item to be cleared without delay. When points of business cannot be resolved at a meeting, it is the chair's responsibility to appoint a committee to deal with these issues.

Adjourning or Closing the Meeting
Once all agenda items are covered, the chair should inquire if there is any other business. Any new points raised relating to the purpose of the meeting should receive adequate attention. When there is no further business, the chair may declare the meeting closed. No resolution or approval is required to do this provided all the business for which the meeting was convened has been dealt with. if, for any reason, the business of the meeting has not been satisfactorily concluded and it is necessary to reconvene, the meeting should be adjourned by resolution and will receive a motion of adjournment. "Seconder" All in favour. Carried." The gavel is rapped to signify closing of meeting.

Once the meeting is officially adjourned, there is no more debate. Any continuing discussion is unofficial and off the record. Once the meeting is officially closed, you are no longer in the chair and you should not entertain motions or conduct any official business or action.

Remember, the chair is the pilot and should guide the "ship" and let the others do the talking.
Fifteen Things To Do As Chair:
  1. Call the meeting to order on time
  2. Announce the business to come before the meeting, in order
  3. Direct the business and conduct the meeting
  4. Maintain order
  5. Recognize and secure a hearing for those who are entitled to speak
  6. See that all are heard
  7. State, and put to a vote, all motions that are properly moved, and announce the result of the vote
  8. Hold debate to the question under discussion
  9. Limit long-winded speakers
  10. Stand when speaking (customs may differ on this point)
  11. Be just and impartial
  12. Introduce speakers
  13. Arrange programmes
  14. Appoint committees
  15. Know when it is time to bring a meeting to a satisfactory and orderly conclusion


  1. As chair, don't try to be a "wise cracker". It is not necessary to be funny all the time -- but don't sacrifice a bit of wholesome humour for fear it will hurt your dignity.
  2. A wise chair never dictates. Ask questions and suggest points to be considered; guide discussion, but do not attempt to to "bully" your own ideas through.
Your Turn...
1. List two purposes for using an agenda.
2. Who normally reads the minutes of the previous meeting?
3. The minutes of the last meeting should be circulated beforehand to allow time for the members to review them:

TRUE       or        FALSE

4. List five of the fifteen things a chair does.

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Source: Gold Star Handbook (A-CR-CCP-121/PT-001) - Chapter 14