CONDUCT OF BRANCH AND WORKPLACE MEETINGS
Bringing members together is vital for formulating branch policy and democratic decision-making. Whether a formal branch meeting, a meeting in the workplace or for a small group of members, it is important that members who make the effort to attend find the experience rewarding. It is not only young members who complain that meetings can be “boring”.
Meetings should have a clear purpose and it is up to the chair and other experienced branch officers to ensure that all attending are engaged to reach its conclusions.
Branch officers should:
ensure meetings are friendly and welcoming. It is not only the chair who can help;
other officers can introduce themselves to new members and explain the agenda and how the member can contribute to review the agenda. Is it necessary to lengthily review the minutes of the last meeting and discuss matters arising at the start of the meeting? Is it necessary to report on a lengthy pile of correspondence received? Could these items be dealt with in a different way? Will a new member’s introduction and first impression be a meeting focusing on the past and not on the future?
avoid the use of jargon – so easily done
ensure debate is conducted in a non-aggressive manner – take a break if things
become difficult try to plan your meeting so that big debates can be held early before people become tired, and take a break before getting on with the next business
ensure that decisions and actions are clear and understood – do not assume lack of
comment means an agreement to a proposal – ask!
ensure that the members who attend know what will happen next and when the next meeting may be called
ensure that no one member can dominate the discussion by virtue of her/his professional role or employment status in relation to other members present. Members should be asked to declare “an interest” in matters where their professional responsibilities might be in conflict with the general interest of other members. Where such interest is declared the chair should ensure that the member does not contribute to the discussion and, where appropriate, is asked to withdraw from the meeting.