Chairing a meeting: Sample meeting procedure

This is a comprehensive check list for chairing meetings.

  1. Checking the quorum
  2. Opening the meeting
  3. Presenting apologies
  4. Personal items
  5. Confirmation of the minutes
  6. Dealing with Parts 1 and 2 en bloc
  7. Dealing with Part 3 items
  8. Other business
  9. Closing the meeting
  10. Following up with the Executive Officer

Checking the quorum

If the committee has a specified quorum, the Chair (or Executive Officer) checks that the quorum has been reached.

Opening the meeting

The Chair declares the meeting open.

Presenting apologies

The Chair (or Executive Officer) reads out any apologies for non-attendance (except in very large meetings, where this would take a lot of time).

Personal items

The Chair deals with any personal items such as the welcoming of new members, thanking of retiring members, or welcoming of visitors to the meeting.

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Confirmation of the minutes

The Chair seeks (from those who were present) confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting. If any amendments have been proposed in the agenda or are proposed at the current meeting, the Chair invites those members who were present at the last meeting to consider them and to agree on the specifics of any amendments to be made.

If there's a dispute about any proposed amendment, those who were present at the last meeting vote on whether or not the amendment is to be adopted.

The minutes are then confirmed, either in their original form or with agreed amendments, and any amendments are recorded in the minutes of the current meeting.

The Chair signs the minutes after they have been amended as approved.

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Dealing with Parts 1 and 2 en bloc

If the agenda has been split into Parts 1 (for communication only), 2 (in which each item contains Chair's recommendations) and 3 (items for discussion) the Chair refers to Part 1 for noting en bloc; presents Part 2 to the meeting for approval en bloc, indicating that members can ask to have items transferred from Part 2 into Part 3 (for discussion) on request.

If any member has made such a request before the meeting, the Chair advises of this.

Once it is clear which items remain in Part 2, the Chair moves en bloc endorsement of the recommendations in those items.

Items transferred to Part 3 are usually considered at the end of the agenda (given that they were originally considered less important/ contentious than the other items in Part 3) though if the member seeking transfer indicates that the matter to be raised is minor, the Chair may choose to deal with the item immediately.

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Dealing with Part 3 items

Part 3 of the agenda is considered, dealing with each item in the order on the agenda, unless the Chair considers that there's good reason to change that order (for example, late advice of limited availability of an important invitee to the meeting). It's normal procedure for the Chair to ask for the meeting's approval to re-order items.

For most items, the Chair gives a brief introduction. If a report or a discussion paper is presented, the Chair normally invites the author to introduce it. Ideally introductions don't repeat material which members already have- rather they briefly draw attention to key points and issues as an aid to committee discussion.

The Chair then invites open discussion, and tries to facilitate a debate which draws out the full range of opinions held by members present.

If appropriate, a vote is taken on a specific motion at the end of discussion. The Chair asks the Executive Officer to count the votes if the issue is contentious or if the vote is likely to be close.

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Other business

If there is an "Other Business" item on the agenda, the Chair invites members to raise matters. The Chair does not permit discussion of any matter of significance under this item, on the basis that the committee must have adequate time and documentation to prepare for informed discussion. Any significant issue can be included in a future agenda if appropriate.

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Closing the meeting

The Chair thanks any visitors to the meeting (if this has not previously been done at the end of particular items) and, if the meeting has been long and/or difficult, may wish to thank members for their attendance and patience.

The Chair declares the meeting closed.

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Following up with the Executive Officer

The Chair asks the Executive Officer whether there is any aspect of the meeting that he/she would like to discuss before writing the minutes.

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