Effective Governance Series: The Agenda
Have you ever been in a meeting where you find yourself confused or wondering why you are there?
Several years ago, I worked at a organization where there were mandatory 7AM meetings weekly. These meetings did not have any agenda and never was their purpose identified. I recall that at the last one I attended, about 10 blurry eyed people were in attendance and about 15 minutes in it took a bizarre turn, when my then employer pulled out photos of her vacation to show us pictures of the “Orbs” and discuss their celestial origins. I resigned that night.
What went wrong? How could this have been prevented? This is where the power of the agenda comes into play.
Whether a small organization, club or society, or a large corporate board; it is vital that meetings have and follow an agenda.
The agenda sets the ‘Orders of the Day’. This means that once an agenda is adopted, the participants in the meeting have agreed that the business on the agenda sets the parameters of the business that will be dealt with at the meeting.
The agenda is not the Chair’s agenda, it is the members, being all those at the meeting eligible to vote.
The agenda can be changed by a vote of the members present, at any time.
The agenda gives direction to the meeting and supports the ability of the chair to manage the meeting.
The proposed agenda should be prepared in advance of the meeting and circulated to members a reasonable amount of time ahead of the meeting day.
The agenda as adopted should set out all the reports, business, correspondence, and anything else to be discussed during the meeting.
The agenda also helps set the tone of the meeting, it allows those who attend to be able to know what to expect, what will be discussed, how long the meeting is likely to last, and what if anything those participating should prepare ahead of time.
If there are reports to be considered, they should, if at all possible, be available to members ahead of time so they can prepare. The Minutes of the previous meeting should also be made available to members in advance to facilitate their approval at the meeting.
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