DAWN Ontario: DisAbled Women's Network Ontario

Board Development Toolkit
Board Meetings

 

 

Board Meetings

Summary


All of us have spent time we felt was wasted in meetings. In fact, many people feel that most meetings they go to are a waste of time. This does not have to be the case, though. Careful planning and follow-through can ensure that the time spent in meetings is time well spent.

Productive meetings need the following:

  • a clear agenda
  • a capable leader
  • a clear record of decisions
  • a clear record of tasks
  • a clear record of who is responsible for specific tasks

The following report deals with these aspects. However, it is also important to keep in mind that meetings can be fun!

Page Contents

Agendas

Being a Capable Leader

Know What You Decided

Know What the Tasks Are

Know Who is Going to do Them

Procedures for Meetings

Parliamentary Procedure

 

Every Board member is expected to participate in Board meetings and meetings of the committees to which they have been assigned (e.g. personnel committee, finance committee).

Executive officers, in addition, must participate in Executive meetings. With all this time in meetings, it is important to ensure that the time is well spent.


Agendas

A meeting can only be productive if people know why they are meeting. "Because it is the second Tuesday of the month" are not sufficient reasons to meet. As Board members, you need to consider what issues you want to address when you meet. These issues should make up the meeting's agenda. The preparation of the agenda for the Board meeting is the responsibility of the Board Chair, in consultation with the staff person. Since most Board members chair various committees of the Board, this section is appropriate for everyone.

What is an effective agenda? Many associations have agendas that are similar to this:

1. Welcome

2. Minutes of last meeting

3. Business arising from the minutes

4. Committee reports (e.g.)
Treasurer's report
Fund raising report
Program committee report
etc.

5. Other business


This agenda looks more or less the same from meeting to meeting. Even an experienced Board member would not know how to prepare for the meeting.

A more useful agenda, leading to a more useful meeting, might look like the following agenda below.

1. Welcome
Our newest Board member, Rena Lavoie, who replaces B. Anello, will be at her first meeting. Please introduce yourselves to Rena as you arrive.

2. Minutes of the previous meeting

3. Business arising in the past month

i. A new lease has been drawn up with our landlord (copy attached to agenda). Pls review it before the meeting.

ii. Item 9 in the minutes from last meeting mentions report of the Crisis centre which had just arrived. Please be prepared to discuss recommendations 1-4. The report was distributed at last meeting.

4. Committee Reports

Fund raising committee report
i. The financial statement on our golf tournament is enclosed. Are we going to do this again?

Treasurer's report
i. The quarterly financial statements are included.

Program committee report
i. We have received the evaluation forms from almost all survivors/caregivers. Please take a look at the enclosed summary and be prepared to make recommendations to the committee.

Coordinator's (staff person) report
i. A brief note is attached. Please note the comments on Parabus problems.

5. Other business

This agenda lets people know why they are coming to the meeting. Further it lets them know what they need to read and what they need to think about before they arrive. Then once the meeting starts, rather than spending large amounts of time bringing everyone "up to speed" on a number of issues, staff and volunteers can summarize the issue and informed discussion can begin.

As Chair of the meeting, the Chair owes it to her fellow Board and committee members to make the best use of their time. An agenda which explains what they need to think about lets them use the best of their skills at the meeting.

 

Being a Capable Leader


A capable leader is critical for meetings to be effective. You don't need years of experience to be a capable leader. All you need is an understanding of why you are there and how you can help your Board or committee.

There is really no mystery to being effective. These simple guidelines will help any committee or Board Chair to make sure that his/her committee/Board is as effective as it can be.

1. Be Prepared

Just as the need for committee members to prepare for meetings was described in the previous section, the Chair needs to prepare, too. When you prepare the agenda, don't put the most important item last. People will be tired and you may run out of time before the discussion ends. Think about what needs to be done and set out the agenda to facilitate that goal. If you have a few "heavy" items, put some lighter ones between them.

Also, just prior to the meeting, familiarize yourself with the agenda, particularly if you developed it well in advance of the meeting. Try to figure out what the major issues will be and make sure that there is sufficient time set aside to discuss them.

2. Facilitate, Don't Dominate

As committee or Board Chair, your role is more facilitator than commander. To get the best out of the committee, you have to make sure that everyone has a chance to speak. Your own views are less important than the combined views of your committee members. Encourage the quiet members to speak and make sure the vocal ones don't dominate the meetings.

These two simple guidelines will help your meetings flow and will help to ensure that everyone feels that they have a part to play in the association.

For more specific instructions, you may want to review the section entitled "Effective Chairing" under the report on "The Role of the Chair/President".



Know What You Decided

How many times have you come to a meeting and spent time debating what was decided at an earlier meeting? "Are you sure we decided to buy furniture from Black's? I thought we were going to get three quotes first and then decide whether we had enough money".

It is easy to avoid repetitive debates by making sure that all motions are recorded in the minutes. The Secretary should have a pile of the motion forms at every meeting. Then the mover can write the motion down for the Secretary so that it is recorded accurately.

Mover:

Seconder:

Motion:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Result:     #in favour______              #against______              Carried______              Defeated______

 

Know What the Tasks Are

As the motion is developed, it is important to be as specific as possible. "Moved that we get quotes on the cost of new office furniture and review these before deciding whether to purchase" is a relatively clear motion, but it leaves a number of questions.

  • How many quotes?
  • Specifically what office furniture?

In order to avoid more discussion at the next meeting about the number of quotes and upon specifically what office furniture is being quoted, these details should be specified either in the motion or in an appended document (ie: "The furniture to be quoted on is everything on list "A" with the exception of the community developer's desk").


Know Who is Going to do Them


How many times have you come to a meeting expecting that something will have been done since the last meeting only to find that everyone thought someone else would do it? This kind of time waster is easy to avoid if a person is assigned to every task.

Consequently, in the motion cited above, the "we" should be replaced by a person's name. If it is stated as, "Move that Rena get...", lets everyone know who is expected to do the task.



Procedures for Meetings


It is quite evident that there are certain special procedures used during meetings (e.g. making a motion, amending the motion, and voting). Sometimes these procedures can be confusing.

Familiarize yourself with the following chart on parliamentary procedure. The procedures outlined can be used to facilitate meetings in that every Board or committee member has a well-known reference point from which to proceed with respect to discussions during a Board or committee meeting.

 

Parliamentary Procedure

To Do This:
You Say This:
Interrupt Speaker?
Need a Second?
Debate?
Amend?
Vote to Carry
Reconsider?
Adjourn meeting
I move that we adjourn
No
Yes
No
No
Majority
No
Call for a recess
I move that we recess for...
No
Yes
No
Yes
Majority
No
Complain about heat, noise etc
I rise to a question of privilege
Yes
No
No
No
No Vote
No
Temporarily suspend discussion
I move to table the motion
No
Yes
No
No
Majority
No
End debate and amendments
I move the previous question
No
Yes
No
No
2/3
No
Give something closer study
I move to refer the matter to committee
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Majority
Yes
Amend a motion
I move to amend the motion by...
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Majority
Yes
Introduce business
I move that
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Majority
Yes
Vote on a ruling of the Chair
I appeal from the chair's decision
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Majority
Yes
Avoid considering an improper matter
I object to considering this motion

Yes
No
No
No
2/3
No
Request Information
Point of information
Yes
No
No
No
No Vote
No
Take up a matter previously tabled
I move to take from the table
No
Yes
No
No
Majority
No
Reconsider a hasty action
I move to reconsider the vote on
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Majority
No

 


 

 



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