Effective Conduct of Branch Meetings
The branch meeting is the forum at which your branch business is conducted. Since teachers are often involved in various organizations and activities which make demands on their free time, an effort must be made to make the branch meeting interesting, informative and attractive so that branch members will have a reason to attend. This can often be done by having a spotlight session at each meeting featuring a guest speaker, a discussion/ presentation on a particular topic, a film or short lecture, or some interesting session. The session need not be long or dramatic, but it must be of current interest to your members.
There are many people available who would have a message of interest for your branch members, for example, branch contact person from Provincial Executive or NLTA administrative staff, the local Federation of School Councils President, other community or provincial leaders. A spotlight or keynote session can add a very positive note to any regular business meeting. However, if a program meeting and the business meeting are combined, please ensure that there is sufficient time for both. It will be necessary to run the meeting very efficiently to avoid having people leave before business is completed.
When operating a branch meeting, there are a few well-founded rules of procedure which will ensure that your meeting is conducted effectively and efficiently. There is a place for informality in many branch activities, but you should not let your conducting of business at a branch meeting slip away from the basic rules of order and decorum. This is especially true when you have a visiting guest.
Here are some comments and suggestions for branch officers in your attempts to plan attractive and functional meetings.
- The Branch Communications Officer should send a notice of the meeting to the branch members several weeks ahead of a meeting date.
- Encourage attendance at the meeting
- Give all guest speakers adequate notice of any special assignment required to be performed at your meeting.
- Determine if the speaker will need media equipment, etc., and arrange for same.
- Prepare an agenda for the meeting and make it available to branch members.
- Arrange refreshments for the meeting.
- Arrange for child care at the branch meeting if required and include this information in the notice of your meeting.
- Make sure to arrange for accommodation of any guest who will be staying in town overnight.
- Check the seating accommodation, lectern, etc., at your place of meeting (check if you need theatre style or classroom style).
- It is the Chairperson’s responsibility to see that guests are appropriately and comfortably seated.
- The Chairperson should plan to involve as many of your members as possible. The officers of your branch should share responsibilities for introductions, courtesies, etc. A question and answer period usually gets more members participating. Quite often this is the most beneficial part of a guest’s visit as a formal presentation may not touch the specific problems of teachers.
- Your guest should be properly introduced to the members of your branch. You may have known the speaker personally all your life, but this is not so for all teachers in your branch. A few well-chosen words will tell the audience that you know your business and let them know the quality and qualifications of your guest. Obtain a bio of the speaker if necessary. Speak to your guest privately before the meeting day to obtain some background information you may wish to use in your introduction. If your guest is (or has been) a member of the Provincial Executive, you will find enough facts in the Convention issue of The Bulletin (published biennial in February or March) since a resume is printed of all branch nominees seeking election to the Executive. If this source of information fails, call the NLTA Office.
- A meeting should start punctually on the time advertised as punctuality is not only courteous but a compliment you pay to those who are on time and who may have come long distances at personal inconvenience.
- Make sure you have a quorum of members present and the number present is recorded in your minutes.
- If you have committees established, make room on the agenda for succinct reports, preferably typed and distributed.
- Have a copy of your branch by-laws available.
- The Chairperson should be acquainted with the basic rules of order so that the business of your meeting is accomplished efficiently and without waste of time. Please refer to the CTF publication “Advice on the Conduct of Meetings” as well as additional notes in Robert’s Rules of Order for branch meetings.
- If you have a Provincial Executive member in your branch, that person should be recognized and there should be room on the agenda for a report of the latest Executive activities.
- The Chairperson should also be cognizant of the appropriate time to close the meeting. Is there a by-law on when the meeting should close? How far do your guest or members of your branch have to travel after the meeting? Has the weather deteriorated since the meeting started? Have all members had an adequate opportunity to question your guest speaker or to introduce their points of business?
- A letter of thanks is always appreciated.
NOTE: Minutes can be copied and distributed. This avoids having to read minutes at the meeting.