Whether you are conducting a meeting in person or over the phone via conference call, there are easy tools you can arm yourself with that will allow you to facilitate a productive and efficient meeting.
Meetings and especially conference calls can easily get chaotic, become unorganized and go sour very quickly, if not conducted properly. Use these tips and tricks to become a master meeting facilitator.
Meeting Agendas and Parliamentary Procedures
When setting meeting agendas, one easy way to organize talking points is by using parliamentary procedures. Parliamentary procedure is a time-tested method of conducting business and public meetings that allows everyone to be heard and decisions to be made without confusion. Parliamentary proceedings are not set in stone and can be adapted for the specific needs of any organization.
Parliamentary procedure usually follows a fixed agenda. Below is an example of a typical outline:
- Call to order
- Roll call of members present
- Reading of minutes from last meeting
- Officers report
- Committee reports
- Special orders- Important business previously designated for consideration at this meeting
- Unfinished business from previous meetings
- New business
One of the main functions of a meeting is to make decisions. To begin the process of making a decision, any member can offer a proposal by making a motion. A motion is a formal proposal by a member in a meeting, in which the group takes a certain action toward. When it comes to motions, members can perform the following:
- Call to order: Bringing an idea or an issue up for the group to discuss.
- Second motions: Members can second motions to indicate to the group that they also favor the issue at hand. The underlying reason for requiring motions to be seconded is to make sure the group doesn’t waste time discussing something favored by only one person.
- Debate motions: The facilitator can then open the floor for discussion on the issue. Any member of the group is then allowed to speak on the issue. It is customary to allow each member a chance to speak at least once on the issue before another member speaks twice.
- Vote on motions: Once everyone has had a chance to speak on the issue, the facilitator can then ask if each member is either in favor or opposed to the issue. The majority of the votes cast decides the motions.
Conference Calls 101
We have all experienced conference calls that have been frustrating, disorganized and even unproductive. However, conference calls are an essential tool, especially when members are spread-out geographically or are unable to meet in-person. Below is a list of what to avoid and some helpful tips and tricks to remember during meetings that will allow for a more productive and successful discussion.
What to Avoid
- Letting discussions escalate to the point of disruption
- Lengthy discussion on a topic before making a motion
- Making public or invited guests wait an unreasonable amount of time to speak
- Allowing district officers to speak for too long or go off-topic
- Allowing one individual to take up large amounts of the meeting’s allotted time
Tips and Tricks
- Develop and share the meeting agenda with all members prior to the start of the call.
- Set a time limit at the start of the call so members are aware of the time limitations even before the call starts.
- Ask members to provide questions in advance
- Outline clear next steps to be taken once the call is finished
- Pause and give plenty of time for members to speak up and process information
- Mute callers that may be causing a disturbance, such as having loud background noise
“Did You Know?” is produced by NACD’s District Operations and Member Services Committee and is distributed in eResource on the last Tuesday of each month. To access recent editions of “Did You Know?” click here.
“Did You Know?” recommendations and observations may not apply to all states. NACD’s DO/MS Committee requests your understanding. We also invite you to find out what your state and local laws and policies say about any particular item.
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