Holding Effective Meetings

The vast majority of a governing body's work is carried out through meetings of one kind or another. It is helpful to develop an annual meetings cycle and to specify in clear terms your governing body's approach to meetings (how they are convened, how the agenda is set, how papers are circulated, decisionmaking procedures, and so on). The minutes of meetings of a governing body (and any of its subcommittees) are legal documents, and could be requested by statutory bodies; for example during an investigation by the Director of Corporate Enforcement. They must therefore be kept in a proper manner.

The 'Four Ps'

It is imperative that meetings are effective, by focusing on the 'Four Ps':

  1. Purpose (being clear about the goals and priorities for a particular meeting)
  2. Preparation (ensuring the right people are invited and have the necessary information prior to the meeting)
  3. Participation (working together, listening actively and managing differences constructively)
  4. Paperwork (ensuring that the agenda is useful and that clear minutes are produced and circulated in time).

Confidential matters

It can be helpful for staff and/or other volunteers to attend governing body meetings. Indeed they are often required to do so, and depending on the governing document, may or may not have voting rights. However, there are times when it is inappropriate for paid staff or others to attend the meetings of the governing body; for example, when there is a confidential discussion of personnel issues. Governing bodies should ensure there are ways for confidential matters to be recorded, and minutes to be filed securely.

Making meetings less dreaded

Finally, it is not unusual for people to groan at the thought of meetings, and for new members of governing bodies to find them intimidating. Some people may find it difficult to engage with some of the issues because of the form of presentation. For people to be able to participate and contribute to discussion and decisions, it is important that information is presented in a way that is accessible to them. Consideration should also be given to the rooms the meetings are held in, the time they are held, the provision of refreshments, etc.

Governing bodies should ensure there are ways for confidential matters to be recorded, and minutes to be filed securely...

Taking a creative approach to meetings could mean that they not only become more efficient, they might even become fun!

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