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Handbook for Student Organizations

Chairing a Meeting

The quality of an organization’s meeting can often be the key to effective functioning and member commitment. Many program ideas or group decisions arise and need to be acted on during an organization’s formal meeting. This section is intended to guide your group to well thought-out decisions. When conducting a meeting, a leader needs to guide group interactions so that the group members will do the following:

  • Accept and maintain opposing points of view.
  • Clearly communicate their own ideas so that others can understand them.
  • Completely express disagreement without personal malice.
  • Listen completely and use feedback to check understanding.
  • Freely criticize the content of diverse ideas without criticizing those who express them.
  • Accept criticism on an intellectual rather than a personal basis.
  • Leave disagreements in the meeting.

One way to allow these interactions to occur successfully is to table discussions.
After discussion, a motion should be made to move to a decision.



Before the Meeting

During the Meeting

  • Begin and end on time.
  • Follow agenda as closely as possible.
  • Use visual aids.
  • If there is discussion, keep it on the task.
  • If a decision needs to be reached…
    … Prepare members to make the best decision. If group size is inappropriate,
        form a subcommittee to study and present options
    … Define the problem.
    … List the alternatives.
    … Be prepared to implement a decision (see The Basics of Making a Motion, below)

After the Meeting

  • Minutes should be written summarizing the decisions made and distributed to members. They should include assignments and tasks to be completed by the next meeting and include those present, date, time and place of the next meeting.
  • Ask members for feedback. Was there good use of members’ time? Did the meeting accomplish something?

The Basics of Making a Motion

  1. The Chair must recognize the speaker.
  2. Express the idea clearly. Include all relevant information.
  3. The Chair should allow time for discussion.
  4. The Chair should end discussion and summarize the outcome.
    The Chair then calls or asks for a motion.
  5. The motion clearly states all necessary information; a second is also asked for
    by the Chair.
  6. After the motion is made and seconded, there is a two-minute discussion period. Discussion may pertain only to the motion on the floor. A vote is then called.
  7. The Chair announces outcome of the vote.
  8. Move on to the next item.

> More on Running a Meeting