Guide to Understanding Business Meetings And Minutes

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guide to business meetings and minutes

What are business meetings and what are minutes of the meetings?

Meetings in every organization (be it big or small) are mechanisms put in place (either regularly or sporadically), to deliberate on issues concerning the progress of the organization.

In this article, we’ll share with you:

  • Types of business meetings
  • Procedures for meetings
  • Terminologies used in meetings.
  • How to write minutes of a meeting
  • Roles of key personnel of a meeting (chairman and secretary)

A business meeting is a gathering of two or more people to discuss ideas, goals and objectives that concern the workplace. 

Meetings of a business can be conducted in person at an office or at a different location, or even over the phone and by video conference.

This gathering have been considered by many businesses as one of the most important part of business, as basic and complex issues are discussed to ensure positive effect on the business.

Types of Business Meetings

There are various types of meeting which include:

Emergency Meetings

These are meetings which takes place when a particular matter needs prompt action or measures.

The individuals to attend such meeting will be informed later than usual i.e with a short notice. This type of meeting is usually called for very serious issues which happened unexpectedly.

Board Meetings

This is the meeting of the Board of Directors i.e a group of directors elected by stockholders at the annual general meeting of a company to supervise the running of the company.

Executive directors are managers of a company, working full time and with salaries paid by the company. There, they make decisions concerning the organization.

Management Meetings

This is the type of meeting where each head of department of an organization or high ranked member of staff meeting with the managing director to discuss issues concerning the organization.

Annual General Meetings

Usually shortened for AGM, this meeting occurs yearly.

Staff Meetings

This meeting is held by the members of staffs in a company or an organization. They gather to discuss matters of collective interest. It could be fixed or irregular at times.

The managing director is at times present at the staff meeting if he has an important message which needs to be passed across by him or her.

Committee Meetings

A committee is a group of people appointed or chosen to perform a function on behalf of a larger group. They come together to make plans on how to move the organization forward.

Also Read: How to dress to a business meeting

What are the Procedures of Meeting?

Meetings are not just for fun; meetings are held to dialogue or discuss important issues that will positively affect the company.

To ensure that a meeting is held in an orderly fashion, then there are procedures which include:

  • Opening Prayer: At the commencement of meetings, though optional in some organizations, a short prayer  is said.
  • Agenda: An agenda means the issues or matters to be discussed at the meeting . This is usually out to the members of the organization with the notice of a meeting, helping them to know the reason for the proposed meeting.

When preparing an agenda, matters arising from the previous meetings are usually considered and also new development which need attention. It is usually prepared by the secretary.

  • Chairman’s Remark: This is the time when the chairman welcomes the members and appreciates their presence and participation. This is usually a short and straight forward speech. After that, he calls the secretary to read the minutes of the last minute.
  • Reading of Last Minutes: This is the section of the meeting where the secretary, after being prompted by the chairman reads the minute of the previous meeting. After any correction or observation is made, the chairman signs and approves the minutes.
  • Adoption of Last Minute: The next step in the meeting is the adoption of the last minute which must be done before another minute will be taken.
  • Matters Arising From Last Minute: Certain matters from the last minute that need further deliberation before conclusions are made on them are dealt with at this stage.

The Main Business of the Meeting: This is the section of the meeting where the main issues of the meeting are addressed according to the agenda.

  • Any Other Business: Usually shortened for AOB, after all matters as they appear in the agenda have been discussed, other members present in the meeting are allowed to bring up other issues for discussion.

Most times any members who want to raise any issue under AOB must have informed the secretary before the commencement of the meeting.

  • Refreshment: Immediately after AOB, all members present at the meeting will be entertained with light refreshment.
  • Closing Remarks: This is usually done by the chairman and he makes sure that the minute is produced by the secretary and distributed to all the members at the meeting before the next meeting.
  • Adjournment: This is the process of closing the meeting and fixing a later date for the continuation of the meeting. Adjournment is different from postponement.

procedures of a meeting

Meeting Terminologies

This section you’ll find meaning to common terms used in a business meeting.

Agenda: A list of items of business to be considered and discussed at a meeting. Depending on the formality of the committee, it may be possible to discuss topics that are not on the agenda.

Prior to the meeting, the committee may ask members for any agenda items to be discussed.

If you’re unsure of the process for getting a topic onto the agenda, discuss with your committee’s chairperson.

Apology: Notification from a person unable to attend a meeting, recorded in the minutes of that meeting. It is vital that consumer representatives are present at all scheduled meetings.

Advice: If you can’t attend a meeting, ask the committee chairperson if you can send a proxy. Ensure that you discuss a suitable proxy with your organization.

Chairperson: This is the person who is responsible for the conduct of the meeting. They may also be the primary point of contact for consumer reps on the committee.

Depending on the formality of the committee, all questions may need to be put to the chairperson, who will then facilitate the discussion.

Minutes: This is a record of proceedings from a meeting. These will normally be circulated to all members after the meeting and endorsed or accepted at the next meeting.

It is important that consumer reps review the minutes carefully because they become the record of decisions, advice or recommendations made by the committee.

Proxy: A proxy is a person authorized to act on your behalf. The proxy, and who they representing, should be evident in the agenda.

In the context of consumer representation, a proxy is person who attends a meeting in your absence, and represents your organization.

Subcommittee: This is a committee composed of some members of a larger committee, board, or other body and reporting to it. Usually a subcommittee has a particular project or focuses and may have a fixed term.

On some committees, all members are required to also be a member of a subcommittee.

Terms of Reference (TOR): The role or functions of the committee/body is recorded formally in its TOR. This is a quasi legal statement that sets the scope of the committee or body that is, group business, and what is not.

It also sets out who the group reports to, how often the group will meet, the expected life of the group, and other key information. The TOR clearly states the functions of the group.

Treasurer: Is the person in charge of funds of an organization.

Motion: This is a proposal which is officially put before a meeting and which goes through several stages before it is accepted or not.

It should be carefully worded and recorded in the minutes. The person who suggests the proposal moves the motion. A person who supports the motion seconds the proposal to move the motion.

Meeting participants then discuss the motion in relation to why it should or should not be supported. The motion is then voted on and either carried or lost.

Amendment to the motion: If someone suggests a change to the original motion, an amendment must be moved and this must be seconded, discussed and voted upon before the original motion is considered.

Quorum: Quorum is the minimum number of people who must be in attendance before a meeting is official.

Resolution: The name given to motion once it has been agreed to by a meeting.

Proxy: A member who is unable to attend a meeting may nominate someone else (a proxy) to attend and/or vote in their place.

Adjournment: When a meeting is running out of time, it may be necessary to adjourn the meeting to a later date.

Amendment: This is a change to a proposed motion by the addition, deletion or modification of words. An amendment must be proposed, seconded and voted upon in the usual way.

Roles of the Chairman and Secretary In a Business Meeting

These are the roles of the Chairman;

Before the meeting

  • He ensures that the notice of the meeting has been prepared and sent to those concerned.
  • He prepares the agenda of the meeting with the help of the secretary.
  • He decides the objective of the meeting
  • He ensures that the meeting has been properly convened.
  • He with the assistance of his secretary decides the venue of the meeting and provides all items that may be required for this meeting.

During the meeting

  • During the business meeting, the chairman ensures that the meeting starts on time.
  • He declares the meeting open
  • Makes sure that all members have the agenda
  • he is to maintain order and decorum in the meeting
  • He sees that minutes of previous meetings are read, corrected and approved.
  • He decides whether a matter has to be put to vote or not.
  • He supervises the voting procedure
  • He summarizes and draws conclusions from discussions.
  • He adjourns the meeting if necessary and closes the meeting.

After the meeting

  • He ensures that an accurate record of the meeting is prepared by the secretary and distributed to each member before the next meeting.
  • He follows up all the decisions made during the meeting i.e he ensures that they are carried out.

The Secretary’s Role at Meetings

The following are the secretary’s role;

Before the Meeting

  • Consult with the chairperson on the order of business for meeting, and the way in which it should be dealt with on the agenda. Decides what business requires discussion and what requires a decision by the management committee.
  • Ensure that the notice of the meeting is given, that suitable accommodation is arranged and confirmed, and that copies of the agenda is prepared.
  • Circulate to all members any papers containing issues or matters to be discussed at the upcoming meeting and (b) a cop of the agenda, minutes of the previous meeting
  • Make sure that any reports or information requested at the last meeting is available or that there is a good reason why not.

At the Meeting

  • At business meetings, the secretary arrives in good time and with all necessary correspondence and business matters for the meeting.
  • Records the names of those who are present, and convey and record apologies received from those who are absent.
  • The secretary reads the minute of the previous meeting, and if they are approved, obtain the chairperson’s signature on them.
  • Report on action or matters arising from the previous minutes. Read any important correspondence that has been received.
  • Unless there is a Minutes Secretary, he takes notes of the meeting, recording the key points and making sure that all decisions and proposals are recorded, as well as the name of the person or group responsible for carrying them out. Make sure action points are clear; and
  • Make sure that the Chairperson is supplied with all the necessary information fo items on the agenda, and remind the chairperson if an item has been overlooked.

After the Meeting:

  • The secretary  prepares a draft of the minutes (unless there is a minutes secretary) and consult the chairperson and most senior staff member (where relevant) for approval.
  • Send a reminder notice of each decision requiring action to the relevant person; this can be done by telephone, or by an action list with the relevant action for each person duly marked; and
  • Promptly send all correspondence as decided by the Management Committee.

Conclusion

There you have it on business meetings, the types, procedures, terminologies of meetings, minutes of a meeting and roles of the chairperson and secretary.

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