Definition of a Meeting
A meeting could be defined as a gathering of two or more people where positive discourse occurs. Meetings are a form of oral communication used in an organization and enable face to face contact of a number of people at the same time.
- Exchange of information
- Articulation of alternative viewpoints
- Deliberation on specific issues
- Removal of misconceptions
- Elaboration and clarification of concepts and ideas
- Finalization of plans and strategies
- Review of performance in the organization
- Enlistment of support and a host of such communication needs, so essential in a business or organizational context
- They facilitate intensive interaction with individuals as well as groups and achieve much more than any written communication
Purpose of Meetings
- To coordinate or arrange activities
- To report on some activity or experience
- To put forward ideas for discussion
- To instruct a group of people, briefing
- To discuss and solve problems related to business
- To give and get new ideas and immediate reactions
- To generate enthusiasm and positive attitude
- To arrive at consensus on issues
- To learn from others and to train others
- To create involvement and interest to obtain assistance
- Reviewing operations pertaining the organization
- Communication with other parties to inform or give external input
- Considering and enabling successful planning throughout the organization
Types of Meetings
Meetings can be broadly classified as;
- Formal meetings
- Informal meetings
The rules of conduct of formal meetings are laid down in a company’s Articles of Association and/or Constitution or standing orders. With such meetings a quorum must be present i.e. the minimum number of people who should be present in order to validate the meeting. A formal record of these meetings must be kept, usually by the company secretary.
Formal types of meetings include;
- Annual General Meetings (A.G.M): AGMs are held once a year to assess the trading of the organization over the year. All shareholders are invited to attend the AGM but they must be given 21 days’ notice.
- Statutory Meetings: Statutory meetings are called so that the directors and shareholders can communicate and consider special reports. Companies are required by law to hold these statutory meetings.
- Board Meetings: Board meetings are held as often as individual organizations require. They are attended by all directors and chaired by the chairman of the board.
Informal meetings are not restricted by the same rules and regulations as formal meetings. Such meetings may take the form of brainstorming or discussion sessions where strict agendas may not be necessary and minutes may not be kept. However it is usually considered good business practice for an agenda to be issued to all members prior to the meetings so that they can prepare adequately in order to make a valuable contribution.
- Management Meetings: These meetings are attended by a group of managers who may need to discuss a specific matter, report on progress or receive progress reports. For example, the marketing manager, sales manager, production manager and the research and development manager may meet to discuss the launch of a new product being launched soon.
- Departmental Meetings: These meetings are called by the head of department or manager of a certain section. All staff will be invited to attend so that information can be passed on or reports received from some members of staff regarding a specific project.
- Working Parties:Working parties may be set up to work together on a specific project or problem. At meetings, progress reports will be given and decisions for further action taken.
Successful Planning of a Meeting
Meetings if properly handled can be useful means of group communication. The following points should be helpful in ensuring the success of any meeting;-
- Clearly define the purpose of the meeting: If the purpose is clearly defined it will immediately help to decide whether it’s at all necessary to call a meeting.
- Distribute the agenda among all members: This helps members to be able to make advance preparations to attend the meeting. It also ensures that they are able to participate effectively during the meeting.
- Provide all the facts: If the items on the agenda require members to know some important facts e.g. financial performance of the company, the best thing is to provide documents relating to the item in advance.
- Restrict the number of invitees: The number of invitees to a meeting shouldn’t be very large as large groups tend to be unproductive. The invitees should be those closely concerned with the subject to be discussed.
Notice and Agenda
The success of a meeting depends on a variety of essential preparations. An important one is to ensure that all the documentation is dealt with efficiently. The notice and agenda are usually combined in one document.
The portion at the top of the document is known as the notice. This gives details of the type, place, day, date and time of the meeting.
The agenda is the middle portion of the document. This is the list of topics to be discussed at the meeting.
Sample: Notice and Agenda
THIKA TECHNICAL INSTITUTE
Business Department Club
A Meeting of the Business Development Club will be held in the Social Hall (Main Campus) on Friday 22 January 2019 at 3:00pm
1. Apologies for absence
2. Minutes of last meeting
3. Matters arising
4. Chairman’s report
5. Club savings/returns (Frank Otoi)
6. New keep fit classes (Carol Mireka)
7. Annual dinner and dance
8. Any Other Business (A.O.B)
9. Date of next meeting
16th January 2019
NB/ On the sample shown here note that the first three and final two items in the agenda are known as ordinary business. These are items which will be included in every meeting agenda. After the opening items of ordinary business there will be a list of special business-these are special matters to be discussed in the meeting only.
Importance of the Notice and Agenda
- It helps the members to come prepared for the meeting
- Since agenda has a set order, it helps the chairman to conduct the meeting smoothly
- It ensures that only matters relevant to that particular meeting are discussed
- It ensures that every point is properly taken up for discussion
- It facilitates the preparation of the minutes
How to Chair a Meeting
If you are the chairman at a meeting and want to run it successfully, the following guidelines should be essential;-
- Observe Punctuality:it’s always good to start a meeting on time. Don’t wait for members who have not come.
- Clearly define the purpose of the meeting: it’s advisable to go through the objective of the meeting don’t assume all members know despite having an agenda circulated before the meeting
- Begin with a positive approach: opening remarks set the tone and direction of the meeting.
- Be brief: opening remarks should be brief. Short openings suggest the urgency of problem.
- Sit out the initial silence: After the opening remarks there’s silence because of members general reluctance to speak. Some people may be thinking about the probability and others not want to speak. The chairman should assist members to open up.
- Remain impartial: sometimes conflicts and personality flare ups mayarise. The chairman should be able to control the situation without taking sides.
- Control emotional build ups: sometimes during the discussion emotions and tensions may build up. The chairman should try control this tactfully e.g. by use of humor
- Draw contributions from all members: the chairman should encourage contribution of all members’ including reluctant ones which helps eliminate the possibility of adverse post meeting comments.
- Controlling the meeting:make sure only one person should speak at a time. Ensure all the members’ give undivided attention to the person contributing at each particular moment.
- Creatively control opposing points of view: opposing points of view are essential to the development of new thinking on a subject so don’t suppress them as a chair. Clearly spell them out to the members so that they are examined further
- Clarify contributions: make sure that each member’s contribution is understood by others. Don’t assume all members have clearly understood whatever is said.
- Make frequent summaries: it’s good practice to keep on summarizing the progress of the meeting to all present. Summaries serve to check which points have been completely discussed and resolved and which ones demand more attention.
- Point out the decisions reached: when the meeting is about to end, make a clear statement of the decisions arrived at. It brings clarity to the discussion.
- Point out differences: along with the decisions, disagreements should also be stated clearly. Point out whether these disagreements are on major or minor issues.
- Point out the course of action: clearly indicate how the decisions taken at the meeting are to be implemented. Follow the meeting by a written confirmation of the decision reached and the action to be taken.
- Close the meeting in time: if you are able to keep to the stated time limit, you will create a very good impression on the members.
Attending a Meeting
If you have been invited to attend a meeting, you must to there to make some positive contribution and not just to complete the quorum. The nature of your contribution will depend upon a number of factors including whether you are representing a particular section/department or whether you are required to offer advice or information in a particular area.
- Go to the meeting well prepared
- Study the agenda carefully. Find out the items of your interest or those which you are expected of making some contribution and brief yourself thoroughly on these items.
- Carefully read the information circulated in advance for it will remain in the background of discussion
- If you want to use written or visual aids to make your contribution effective, prepare them well in advance
- If you are not an experienced speaker, write out the points you want to make and practice speech from these notes.
- Study the other members who are attending the meeting
An understanding knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of the members will enable you to devise the most effective tactics for dealing with them
- Speak at the most appropriate time
If you have really good ideas you are keen to get accepted you ought to participate early and set the members thinking along those lines. Always choose to speak when you can be most effective
- Control your negative impulses
Negative impulses exist in everyone. If others look unreasonable to you, you may be looking unreasonable to others and you actually may be unreasonable. Recognize your negative impulses and try to control them
- Be conciliatory and accommodating
Flexibility is extremely important in a meeting. Try to understand others’ point of view as you expect them to understand yours.
- Avoid lecturing, patronizing, condemning
These tend to breed inferiority in others and give an impression that you are a know-it-all while they are ignorant fools. Members will naturally resent this.
Why meetings fail (Unproductive meetings)
- Purpose of the meeting is unclear
- There is no agenda/organization
- The leader tries to accomplish too much
- The meeting starts late
- Too many people are at the meeting
- The leader loses control
- One person dominates the meeting
- Individuals wander from the topic
- Individuals go back over old items
- No clear direction or no clear conclusions are reached
Advantages of Meetings
- Democratic process: meetings are a democratic process of taking decision. None can blame the other for the decision because it is taken in presence of all the members.
- Improved decision making processes: improved decisions can be obtained through meetings because all issues/matters are discussed while outlining the pros and cons leaving nothing unconsidered. ‘Two heads are better than one.’
- Participative management: can be materialized through meetings where all departmental heads and supervisors may sit together to take up decisions concerning organizations operations.
- Coordination: meetings can help coordinate work related matters since all the parties/members are represented in the meetings.
- Information sharing: meetings convey information for all concerned departments in an organization. Meetings also allow for in-depth discussions with the members also getting a platform to exchange their views, ideas and opinions.
- Encourages teamwork: meetings encourage members from different departments to interact and work together for purposes of working towards organizational mission and vision.
Disadvantages of Meetings
- Time consuming: meetings take much time before decisions are conclusively made
- Expensive: holding meetings can be a costly affair to an organization especially when being held out of the office premises
- Formalities: there are many formalities involved before a meeting is convened. Agenda, minutes, regulations, invitations etc are needed for a valid meeting
- Difficult to control: sometimes it can become very difficult for the chairman to control over the meeting especially with discussions on sensitive matters that members may have varied opinions ‘many men many minds’
10 Golden Rules for meetings
- The meeting should be convened only when it is essential
- Meetings should have time schedule and must begin and end on time
- Meetings should be convened only when no telephonic discussion is possible
- They must have clear and specific agenda and sub agendas
- They must have clear objectives
- Time limit should be specified for each item of the agenda and sub agenda
- The notice of the meeting should be sent well in time before the meeting to those who are required to attend the meeting and can make useful contributions
- Conclusion of a meeting is summarized so that each one understands the summary of the proceedings
- Action oriented minutes should be prepared and circulated after the meeting
- Meeting should be closed on a pleasant note
Minutes of Meeting
Minutes are a record of the discussions, decisions and recommendations that are passed during a meeting. The secretary of the group records the proceedings of the meeting. What is written should be a true record of what goes on during the meeting. An accurate written record of meetings is essential not only for all those who attended the meeting but also for those who were unable to attend.
Types of Minutes
- Verbatim Minutes
These are used primarily in court reporting where everything needs to be recorded word for word.
- Minutes of Resolution
Only the main conclusions which are reached at the meeting are recorded, discussions of the meeting are not included in this type of minutes. These are usually used for minutes of AGMs and other statutory meetings. It is important to note the exact wording of any resolutions passed:
E.g. Min 16/16 Purchase of Photocopier
The Company Secretary submitted a report from the Administration Manager containing full details of the trial of the AEZ Photocopier. IT WAS RESOLVED THAT the AEZ photocopier be purchased at a cost of ksh.200,000.
- Minutes of Narration
These minutes are normally a concise summary of all the discussions which took place, reports received, actions to be taken and decisions made.
E.g. Min 16/16 Purchase of Photocopier
The Company Secretary submitted a report from the Administration Manager containing full details of the trial of the AEZ Photocopier. This machine had been used for a period of 4 weeks in the printing room. The machines many benefits were pointed out including reduction/enlarging facilities and collating. The Company Secretary was asked to make the necessary arrangements for the copier to be purchased at a quoted price of ksh.200,000.
Layout and Wording of the Minutes
Minutes may be displayed in a variety of formats depending on the preference of your employer and organization. As they are a record of what has taken place, minutes should be written in the past tense using third person and reported speech. E.g. the chairman welcomed all the members to the meeting and requested Peter Musembi to say a word of prayer where the meeting then started…..These minutes have been prepared from the previously prepared agenda.
When writing the minutes, one should include the following sections;
- Title or Heading of the specific meeting preferably written in capital letters and underlined. Include aspects such as name of the group that is meeting, the date, the venue and time of the meeting
- Record of attendance: this will include those present, absent with apology, those absent without apology and any non-member who had been invited to attend (In-Attendance) in that order
- The preliminaries: here you should note the formalities that introduce a meeting such as the chairperson calling the meeting to order, saying a prayer, noting any apologies and chairperson’s welcoming remarks
- Confirmation of Previous Minutes: the secretary reads the minutes of the previous meeting and one member proposes and then another member seconds. The secretary and chairperson endorse/sign the minutes
- Matters Arising: these are issues coming up from the previous meeting held before which are prompted for discussions by the members who want to know status/progress of a particular matter discussed in the previous meeting.
- Items on the agenda: in any meeting there are specific agenda that need to be discussed and they come immediately after the matters arising. These are labelled and numbered sequentially and form the record that follows.
- Any Other Business (A.O.B): these normally are discussions of other issues not on the agenda
- Adjournment: this brings the meeting to a close and the time that the meeting ends is indicated here.
- Date for the Next Meeting: this is mentioned and preferably information on venue a time should be given.
- Spaces for the chairperson and secretary to sign after the confirmation of minutes are put
Chairperson: Sign……………………………….. Date……………………………..
Each item should be numbered as a separate minute. Different organizations have their own specific ways of labelling minutes but either way they should be clearly labelled. Normally the word minute is shortened as MIN and the number of minute follows after and the year; others will include the number of minute, month meeting is held and the year. MIN.14/16…….MIN.14/4/16
K.N.E.C SAMPLE EXAM QUESTIONS
Meetings/Notice and Agenda
- Outline 4 duties of the chairman during a meeting (4 marks)
- Explain 5 roles of committee members in a meeting (10 marks)
- Outline 3 reasons that make it necessary for the notice and agenda of a meeting to be circulated to members in good time (3 marks)
- State 3 advantages of issuing an agenda to members before a meeting (3 marks)
- List the first 3 items on the agenda of a meeting (3 marks)
- Outline 3 details that should be included in the notice of a meeting (3 marks)
- Outline 3 reasons why it is important to have an agenda for a meeting (3 marks)
- You are the secretary of Chao Welfare Association and you are required to convene a meeting to be held in two weeks’ time. Write a notice of the meeting to the members (6 marks)
- Explain 5 factors that may make a meeting fail to achieve its objectives (10 marks)
- List the 2 sets of dates that are found in the notice of a meeting (2 marks)
- List 4 ways through which a committee member may make a meeting effective (4 marks)
Minutes of a Meeting:
- You are the secretary of Jamii Welfare Association. The Association held its monthly meeting and discussed the following agenda items among others.
- Opening members’ dispensary
- Training on book keeping
- Trip to Arusha-Tanzania
Write the minutes (16 marks)
- You are the secretary of the management committee of KaziKwako Manufacturers. The committee held a meeting last week and discussed the following items:
- The need to improve company communication
- Relocation of the maintenance workshop
- Renovation of the offices
Write the minutes of the meeting (16 marks)
- You are the secretary of Jamaa Sports Club. Recently, the management committee held its monthly meeting and discussed the following items:
- Upgrading facilities in the club
- Hiring a new instructor
- Increasing membership fees
Write the minutes (16 marks)