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Process of Conducting a Meeting

Completion requirements
One: Open the Meeting and Welcome Everyone

Then go through the agenda step by step.

Two: Those Present and Apologies

The apologies of those members not able to attend the meeting are recorded as part of the minutes. Circulate an attendance register if there are too many people to just record it in the minutes. Ask if there are any apologies from people who are not there.

Three: Minutes

Minutes are accurate notes of what is discussed and decided on at meetings. Make sure that the minutes of the previous meeting are circulated to everyone or at least read at the beginning of the meeting.

  • Unless the minutes of the previous meeting have been circulated among the members (in which case he/she will ask whether they “may be taken as read”) he/she will call upon the secretary to read them aloud to the meeting, in order that the meeting may confirm that they are an accurate record of the proceedings at that meeting.
  • Once the minutes have been read (or taken as read), he/she will ask the meeting whether anyone present will move his/her formal adoption.
  • Thereafter, he/she will ask the meeting whether anyone present is willing to second the motion for the adoption of the minutes.
  • When the motion for the adoption of the minutes has been proposed and seconded, and upon its being carried by the meeting, the chairperson will sign them as a correct record. The signature of the chairperson makes them the official record of the meeting.

Four: Matters Arising from the Minutes

This covers points that were discussed at the last meeting, when perhaps someone was asked to do some work or there have been subsequent developments, which now need discussion. A list of these points is drawn from the previous meeting’s minutes.

Five: Correspondence (optional)

This means all the letters that have been received by the organization since the last meeting. They can be dealt with in different ways.

If your group does not receive many letters, they could be read out and then discussed. Another way is for the secretary to list them with a brief explanation. The chairperson then goes through the list and suggests action.

If the issue raised in the letter needs decisive action it can be more fully discussed.

Six: New Items on the Agenda

Someone must introduce each item on the agenda. The item introduced could be either a discussion or a report.

If it is a discussion, someone is given the job of leading the discussion and making proposals on that particular item.

If it is a report, the person who is reporting should comment on the following:

  • Was it a task that was completed?
  • What were the problems?
  • What still needs to be done? (issue, facts, options, proposal)

Discussion should be to examine a problem or discuss an issue in more detail – get everyone’s ideas and points of view on it, arrive at a decision, delegate responsibility for the completion of the task and follow-up to ensure that it is completed.

“Moving the adoption of a motion”

The first speaker on each item of business should conclude his remarks by formally moving the adoption of a carefully worded motion (which should have been prepared beforehand). A copy of the motion should be handed to the chairperson, who will pass it to the secretary for inclusion in the minutes of the meeting if the motion is adopted by the meeting.

The chairperson will ask whether anyone present is willing to second the motion. (The purpose of calling of a seconder of the motion is to ascertain whether there is any support for the motion, if there is no-one willing even to second the motion, it is unlikely that there will be sufficient support to warrant proceeding with the discussion. If there is no seconder, the motion will be dropped.) It is probable that the member seconding the motion will wish to state the reasons for his support of the motion. These he should present in a short speech.

Thereafter, discussion on the motion before the meeting (which is now called ‘the question’) will proceed. At this stage, the chairperson’s task will be to ensure that the various viewpoints expressed at the meeting are fully ventilated, with this object in view he should, as far as possible, arrange for supporting and opposing viewpoints to be presented alternatively. When calling upon members to speak on the motion the chairperson should, if possible, call on members by name. In this regard, therefore, his function is to regulate the discussion and the sequence of speakers, stopping all private discussions and arguments, and maintaining order so as to ensure a fair hearing for the speaker of the moment.

In this matter of regulating the debate the chairperson must be seen to be scrupulously impartial, at least in theory, the chairperson has no views on the question before the meeting. Hence, he should take no part in the discussion (which if he is a member of the organisation, he is fully entitled to do.) If indeed he wishes to participate in the debate, his correct course is, with the approval of the meeting, temporarily to vacate the chair in favour of some other person present. He should realise that, only if he maintains strict impartiality, will he be able to retain the respect of the meeting in his regulation of the proceedings.

“Terminating a discussion”

When the chairperson is of the opinion that the matter has been sufficiently debated, he should exercise his prerogative of terminating the discussion by declaring his intention to do so, say, after the next speech. In this matter, as in all others, he must ensure that the meeting is in agreement with his action. While every member present has the right to speak once on every motion before the meeting, the member cannot demand that right, and if, in the judgment of the chairperson, the matter has been adequately ventilated, he should terminate the debate. The chairperson should always remember that the purpose of the meeting is not to provide an opportunity for everyone present to practice their skills in public speaking – such conduct would turn the meeting into a debating society – but to transact, as expeditiously as possible, the business for which the meeting was convened, while giving adequate opportunity for all viewpoints to be expressed.

“Move to an amendment”

It is possible that, during the course of the debate, a member may wish to move an amendment. In such a case, the chairperson will allow him to do so. An amendment will constitute a variation of the wording of the original motion before the meeting.


When the chairperson thinks that the “question” before the meeting has been adequately discussed, or when there are no further members wishing to speak on the motion, he will put the matter to the meeting for a decision to be taken by means of a vote.

In order to maintain his position of impartiality, it will be wise for the chairperson not to exercise his right to vote on the motion before the meeting, even though, if he is a member of the organisation, he is entitled to do so.

Unless it is obvious to everyone that the motion is agreed to by an overwhelming majority, the chairperson should arrange for the votes to be counted. For this purpose, he should enlist the assistance of the secretary or of some other person. He will do this to ensure that there can be no doubt about the correctness of the count.

Should the vote be a tie, that is, if the votes cast for and against the motion are equal, the matter can be resolved if the constitution (if any) or the rules and regulations give the chairperson a “casting vote". The casting vote should not be confused with the chairperson's vote if he is a member of the organisation, which he should cast at the time when the meeting votes on the motion.

Should the constitution or the rules and regulations not make any provision for the chairman of a meeting to have a casting vote, there is no way in which the impasse can be resolved. In such a case, the chairperson should declare that the motion has been lost, since it is generally unwise for a motion to be adopted in the face of so much opposition to it. The chairperson has a casting vote only if the constitution or the rules and regulations give him this right.

Thereafter, he will direct the attention of the meeting to the next item of business on the agenda-paper, which will be dealt with in the same manner.

Seven: Closure

On the completion of the business of the meeting, as set out in the agenda-paper the chairperson will thank all those present for their attendance, and declare the meeting ended.