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.
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.
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
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.
1. CALL TO ORDER
2. ROUTINE BUSINESS
Approval of the agenda
Approval of the minutes of the previous meeting
Correspondence (read by the secretary)
(2) Other committee members
(3) Special committees
3. OLD BUSINESS ARISING
FROM THE PREVIOUS MEETING
Item still under discussion at the adjournment of last meeting
Item prompted by a decision made at the last meeting
4. NEW BUSINESS
Most important or most urgent item
Second most important or urgent item
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.
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
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
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
"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
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.
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.
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.
To Do As Chair:
Call the meeting to order
Announce the business to
come before the meeting, in order
Direct the business and conduct
Recognize and secure a hearing
for those who are entitled to speak
See that all are heard
State, and put to a vote,
all motions that are properly moved, and announce the result of the vote
Hold debate to the question
Limit long-winded speakers
Stand when speaking (customs
may differ on this point)
Be just and impartial
Know when it is time to bring
a meeting to a satisfactory and orderly conclusion
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.
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.
List two purposes for using an agenda.
Who normally reads 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:
List five of the fifteen things a chair does.
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Gold Star Handbook (A-CR-CCP-121/PT-001) - Chapter 14