Meetings: Parliamentary Procedure and Meeting
Types of meeting
Meetings come in all shapes and sizes, of course. Here are some types: • chat (informal discussion) with colleagues at the coffee machine. • brainstorming among colleagues: where as many ideas as possible are produced quickly, to be evaluated later. • project meeting / team meeting of employees involved in a particular activity. • department/departmental meeting.
• meeting with suppliers, for example to negotiate prices for an order.
• meeting with a customer, for example to discuss a contract.
• board meeting: an official, formal meeting of a company’s directors.
• Annual general meeting / AGM (BrE); annual meeting (AmE): where shareholders discuss the company’s annual report.
• EGM: extraordinary general meeting: a shareholders’ meeting to discuss an important issue such as a proposed merger. The role of the chairperson
Before the meeting
‘A good chairperson has to be a good organizer. What they do before the meeting is as important as the meeting itself. They should make sure the agenda (the list of things to be discussed) is complete by asking those involved what should be on it and then circulating (distributing) it to everyone concerned. They should check the venue, making sure the room will be free, without interruptions, until the end of the meeting.’ During the meeting
The chairperson should be a good timekeeper. They should start the meeting on time, without waiting for latecomers. They should appoint a minute-taker to take the minutes, making sure that opinions and action points (where participants agree to do something) are noted. They should make sure each point on the agenda is allocated the time it deserves and should keep to the timetable. When the time allocated to one point is up, the chair should make sure that discussion moves on to the next point, even if the issue has not been completely covered or resolved (decided).
The chair should make sure that each participant has the chance to make their point, and should deal tactfully with disagreements, making sure that each side feels their point of view has been noted. They should also try to avoid digressions, where people get off the point. Finally, they should ensure the meeting finishes on time, or early.