Meetings are where your club decisions and plans for the year are made. Many clubs hold regular, informal meetings over lunch or a beer where executive members might discuss minor club issues. It’s not vital to record minutes at these meetings. Club committee meetings, where important decisions are made, especially any involving financial matters, should have their minutes recorded and be held several times a year. The club constitution should outline the minimum number of meetings to be held each year or semester. After your AGM, it is important to decide when the outgoing committee will meet with the new executive for the handover. The rest of this page outlines standard elements of meetings found in western bureaucracy. Even fleeting familiarity with them at a club level could make life in the scary post-university world all that much more comfortable.
It can be really beneficial to mail out an agenda to all committee members before a meeting. The agenda is put together by the Secretary or President and outlines what the committee will discuss at the meeting and assists the secretary taking minutes.
The chairperson role is usually adopted by the President or Vice President. They run the meeting, ensuring the agenda is followed and keeping discussion on topic.
Minutes document all the important decisions made by a club and provide guidance for the future. Minutes needn’t be exhaustive but should provide enough detail for readers to understand what the outcomes of the meeting were. Traditionally the secretary takes minutes and unless they have exceptionally neat handwriting, it is best for minutes to be typed and kept on file. Minutes should contain:
- An attendance list and apologies.
- The exact wording of any motions and resolutions passed and who supported them.
- Brief summary of any debate and decisions reached.
- A list of commitments made at the meeting.
Motions aren’t always necessary but sometimes squabbles can break out and a formal motion, when passed, should put an end to division and give the club direction. A motion needs a mover, a seconder and a round of debate. Once the debate begins to run in circles, a vote is to be held and a motion passes with a majority vote.
Quorum is the minimum number of committee and/or club members required in attendance at a meeting for any motions, condemnations and decisions to be valid. A club should outline their quorum in the club constitution. A suggested minimum is at least two executives and two general committee members but you can do what you like.
A cautionary tale: Legends fortell a Murdoch club whose constitution put quorum at 50% of their total membership. As the club’s membership grew into the hundreds it became impossible for any meeting to make valid, binding decisions. Worse still, changing the constitution required a two thirds majority! Rumours that the club ‘accidentally’ lit their constitution on fire and corrupted all backups to write a new one from scratch remain unconfirmed. So always make sure your club’s quorum is a careful balance between enough people for accountability but not so much to become unwieldy. Also, fire is dangerous and can burn you.