How to Preside Without Being Overbearing
Using Time Wisely
Provide timely, clear, and complete notices of meetings
Provide timely, clear, and complete notices of meetingsEvery one of our members are volunteers. Even attending meetings is a volunteer activity and as such, members need to be able to schedule their time to attend. Providing proper notice of upcoming meetings and their content will help members plan to attend and also plan to participate.
Avoid sprining surprises on the members in meetings
As much as possible, provide notice of what’s coming before the meeting. By knowing ahead some of the major agenda items, members can discuss issues before the meeting and come prepared to participate in debate with pertinent information. When surprise issues are brought up, the body often uses great amounts of time, both before and during debate, brainstorming and grasping for information to help them make an informed decision. However, it is importat for all members to understand that any motion can come to the floor at any meeting, providing the rules don’t deny it. Giving the members a recess to talk amongst themselves about a motion before it is stated and debate is begun can give them a much needed time to get oriented and coordinate their efforts.
Find meeting locations that are accessible and convenient
Some of our organizations are very small geographically. Others span for hundreds of miles. Making sure you hold you meetings in a location that is convenient to all will improve attendence. Some organizations that cover large areas, as the state central committee does, may choose to move their meetings around so that all members share the load of travel. In some cases, organizations may need to look at electronic means of attendence. We’ll provide specific guidance for this in an upcoming post.
Make sure meetings are organized and flow well
Proper planning and following the guidance in Part 3 of the this series concerning crafting substantive agendas will greatly help in conducting meetings that flow well. Having motions made in the most appropriate order and place in the meeting can capitalize on subjects as they are reached in the agenda. A meeting that flows well and is conducted well will seem to fly by, whereas a poorly planned meeting will stop and start and get bogged down as it works through the agenda.
Learn skills that help move meetings along
In a future post we will discuss skills that help move meetings along. One of those skills is using “unanimous consent” on items that often have little need for debate. For example approving minutes often involves requesting a motion for the approval of the minutes, waiting for a second, inquiring for debate or amendment, closing debate, and then taking a vote. A skilled chair makes sure the minutes are properly communicated ahead of the meeting, copies are available and distributed to members at the meeting and when the agenda item is reached can simply say “The agenda was emailed and you all have copies. Are their any amendments? Are there any objections to the adoption? Hearing none and without objection the minutes stand adopted.” Not only does this save time, but it keeps the body from becoming frustrated at routine parliamentary process that is done for its own sake.
Train members to contribute effectively and efficiently
Taking the time to hold trainings for new members or those that need a refresher is a great way to empower your members. By having members that know the rules and follow them, your job as chair will be much easier. Contact your local National Association of Parliamentarians chapter and ask for a member to come and conduct a training. Sometimes this will require a fee, but it is money well worth it!
Remember: members will continue to participate when their time is well spent
No one appreciates having their time wasted. If you do your job well as chair and make sure the time your organization is asking of your members is well spent, they will feel like remaining active. Follow the guidance in this series and you will be well on your way to becoming a more successful chair and having a more successful organization.I hope you have enjoyed this information and urge everyone to reach out if you have a subject you would like addressed or would like to help produce future content for our members! Our Education Committee is always looking for new members to help in this effort. Thank you all for your time and I look forward to helping you all become more empowered and become better leaders!
I hope you have enjoyed this information and urge everyone to reach out if you have a subject you would like addressed or would like to help produce future content for our members! Our Education Committee is always looking for new members to help in this effort. Thank you all for your time and I look forward to helping you all become more empowered and become better leaders!