Meetings are a key tool for managing your Grad Group, keeping everyone on the same page and ensuring your Group keeps on track with its goals and aims. There’s really no other way to put this: for your Group to succeed, you’re going to need meetings. Meetings can take many levels of formality and it’s important to follow the requirements of your Group.
For some of you, this may be the first time you’ve managed formal meetings, so below we have outlined some common-used terms and the basic things you need to know about planning and running your meetings. You can also use our Meeting Agenda and Minutes Template.
This is guide outlines the general tasks for your Grad Group to run best-practice meetings. These might include General Meetings (with all members and stakeholders invited) or Committee/Executive Meetings (with just your Committee invited). There are a number of tasks to undertake and you should decide within your committee who is the appropriate person for each task, often the Secretary or President. You may find that not every step is appropriate to your Grad Group and there may be tasks not noted that are relevant to your Grad Group that you also wish to undertake (we’d recommend noting any additional tasks in your handover documents).
A key meeting you will have during the year is your AGM (Annual General Meeting), which usually includes the election of your Committee. You can find further tips and tricks relating to AGMs here.
There’s a lot of jargon thrown around when it comes to meetings, so here is a quick guide to some of the lingo you will hear.
|Inaugural General Meeting (IGM)||The first meeting your Group will have. At this meeting you will vote to accept your Constitution, to affiliate with GSA and will hold Elections for your Committee. This meeting will only happen once.|
|Annual General Meeting (AGM)||An annual meeting for all members to review the previous year and to vote in the following year’s Committee.|
|Special General Meeting (SGM)||A meeting for all members to vote on urgent major issues (such as constitutional change or electing a vacant Committee position) that cannot wait for the next AGM. These meetings are unplanned and take place as required.|
|General Meeting||A meeting for all members to discuss updates and plans. You may choose to hold these throughout the year if needed. However, not all Groups will have these.|
|Committee Meeting||A meeting for your Committee to govern your Group. You may also have an Executive Committee Meeting just for Executives.|
|Quorum||The number of people that must be present for the meeting to take place. This figure is usually defined in your Constitution.|
|Constitution||A document that outlines the governance of your Group. This document is very important.|
|Motion||A motion is simply an idea on which other members can vote. This may be a proposal, recommendation or idea. After a motion has been proposed, the Chair should open up an opportunity for the Group to discuss it and then take a vote. To pass a motion is also known as carried or carried out.|
|Seconded||You may choose to require that a motion is seconded. This means that when someone suggests a motion, another person ‘seconds’ the motion, indicating that they also agree that the motion should be discussed and voted on. Importantly, they do not have to agree with the motion to second it. The act of seconding can be particularly useful for larger or more formal committees who want to ensure that time is not wasted discussing motions that only one person finds pertinent. Smaller or less formal committees often choose to not require a second.|
Preparing for your meeting.
Confirm your requirements.
You will need to confirm the following ahead of your meeting:
- How many days’ notice is required to hold your meeting?
- What is the number of people required to attend for the meeting to take place (your ‘quorum’?
- Who needs to attend?
These requirements are generally outlined in your Group’s constitution, so check there first. If not, your Committee should agree this prior to the meeting. You may also have other rules and requirements in place to adhere to – check your constitution and any handover documents.
You might also want to consider if your meeting should be part of a bigger event. For example, you could hold it before a Grad Group social, or after a workshop on a topic relevant to your Group.
Get it organised.
There are several tasks to undertake to organise a meeting, so it’s worth going through and assigning different people to help organise the meeting. Things to consider:
Book a venue.
- Research and book an appropriate venue. Take into consideration accessibility, space requirements (how many people are you expecting), budget, technology & equipment (for example, do you need a screen? Will anyone make presentations?) and the best time and day for your meeting. GSA waives the fee for affiliated Grad Groups to book rooms in the GSA building.
- It’s recommended to book in some set up time – ie don’t start the meeting at the exact time you have the room booked from.
- Once you know your time, date and location, register the meeting with GSA, using the Pre-event Registration Form on the GSA Grad Group Portal.
- Organise your sundry activities
- Organise any catering, entertainment or sessions you wish to include around the meeting.
Get your house in order.
- Allocate and confirm tasks for the meeting. For example, who will: chair the meeting, take minutes, record attendance?
- Prepare your documentation. Outline a proposed agenda for the meeting and set a deadline for any additional motions or topics to be submitted. If possible, distribute the Agenda ahead of time.
- Decide how you will take minutes. Check out GSA’s GM Agenda & Minutes Template for inspiration.
- Prepare a form for tracking attendance or download GSA’s Attendance Template.
Tell people about it.
- Send out official notice of the meeting to all relevant Grad Group/Committee members and stakeholders. This could be via email, text, WhatsApp Group, Facebook Event or through whichever means your Group usually communicates.
- The notice should include:
- date, time, and location of the meeting;
- the agenda;
- information on proxy voting, if relevant; and
- any relevant information attendees may require based on your plans or requirements for the meeting.
Running your meeting.
Get set up.
Arrive early, get settled and prepare the venue. Ensure you have left enough time in your venue booking to prep the room before the meeting starts. Think about where people will sit (do you need to put out chairs), set up catering if you have it and put out any documentation to share. If you are using technology, it’s good to set it up first in case there’s any issues.
Who does what.
The President/Chair generally chairs the meetings. If the President is absent, it should be chaired by another nominated Executive such as the Vice President or Secretary.
The Secretary generally takes minutes and organises attendance being collected. If your Group is large or the Secretary is unavailable, you can nominate someone else to do so.
What to document.
- Agenda. Ensure attendees can see the agenda so that know what is being covered in the meeting. You could, for example, project it on a screen, print out copies, or distribute them digitally for members to follow on their phones, tablets and laptops.
- Attendance. Have attendees fill in the attendance form. You could also use this as a chance to sign them up as members.
- Minutes. It’s up to you how you record minutes. Some Group’s choose to detail everything said, others just note decisions, votes and action points. This is your record of the event and so your minutes should provide a good overview of the meeting for people to refer back to. Though, at a minimum, your minutes should include:
- time, date and location of the meeting;
- the agenda; and
- any resolutions passed at the meeting.
- Reports. Depending on your Group, you may choose to have Committee members submit/give reports and you may wish to distribute these to be read. Again, you could print, project or digitally distribute.
After your meeting.
Ensure all documentation for the meeting is complete, including (as required) attendance lists, minutes and reports. Save these in a place that the Group will have access to and can find in the future – we would advise somewhere cloud-based, such as a Google Drive, Drop Box or MS Teams.
Tell people about it!
Distribute the minutes and let your members know about any important decisions, votes and updates.