How to Chair a Meeting – AFSCME

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    1. Call to Order
    Start Your Meeting on Time.
    Rap your gavel and say: “I call this meeting to order.” Wait for quiet, and then begin the meeting.

    2. Roll Call of Officers
    The Chair says: “The Recording Secretary will call the Roll of Officers.”
    The Recording Secretary then calls the roll in a loud, clear voice, with pauses
    for response.

    3. Reading of Minutes
    The Chair says: “The Secretary will read minutes of the last meeting.” Alternatively, copies of the minutes can be distributed at the meeting and the Chair says: “Instead of having the Secretary read the minutes, copies have been distributed for your review.”
    After the minutes are read or reviewed, the Chair asks: “Are there any additions or corrections to the minutes? [Pause.] If not, the minutes will stand approved as read.” If corrections to the minutes are made, ask for unanimous consent to additions or corrections at this time. If there is an objection to any addition or correction, it will
    be necessary to adopt a motion to make that change.

    4. Reading of Correspondence
    The Chair says: “The Recording Secretary will now read the correspondence.”
    The Recording Secretary should then read any important correspondence, summarizing the
    content when appropriate.
    Any letter requiring action by the membership should be discussed by the Executive Board prior to the membership meeting. At the membership meeting, the letter should be read along with the recommendations of the board. A motion should be made to adopt the board’s recommended action. That motion should then be discussed and voted on by the members. Routine letters should not be taken up at the membership meeting

    5. Reports of Officers
    The President’s Report might include such topics as:
    • Problems facing the local • Updates on issues affecting the members
    • Summary of topics discussed at the • Actions the Executive Board
    latest Executive Board meeting recommends that the local take If the President’s Report contains any actions recommended by the Executive Board, a motion should be made to adopt the board’s recommended action. That
    motion is then discussed and voted on by the members. To initiate discussion, the Chair may say something like: “Does the Chair hear a motion to accept the Executive Board’s recommendation?”
    Secretary-Treasurer’s Report: This report should be copied and passed out at the meeting. See a sample report in the AFSCME Officers Handbook, Appendix A, or in material following Appendix E of the AFSCME International Constitution.
    The Chair asks: “Does everyone have a copy of the Secretary-Treasurer’s Report? [Pause.] Are there any questions? [Pause.] If there are no objections, the Secretary-Treasurer’s Report will stand approved.”
    If someone raises an objection, a motion of approval is required.

    6. Reports of Staff and Committees
    Staff Report:
    This may include the latest information on political and legislative issues, organizing
    campaigns, important grievances, council activities, an update on contract negotiations,
    or any other information of current interest to the membership.
    Committee Reports:
    Before the membership meeting, the President should talk with each committee
    chairperson and go over his/her Committee Report. Reports from any given committee
    should be made only when there is something worthwhile to report.
    To introduce these reports, the Chair would say:
    “We will now hear a report from the ____________________
    If a committee report contains specific recommendations, which call for membership
    action, then after the report is given the Chair would say:
    “You have heard the report of the ________________________ Committee,
    with the recommendation that the membership authorize _____________.
    Does the Chair hear a motion to adopt the ____________________
    Committee’s recommendation?”

    7. Unfinished Business
    Unfinished Business: Includes any items that require membership action that are left over, or postponed, from a previous meeting.
    The Chair would say something like:
    “We have some old, unfinished business to take care of.”
    The Chair can then review the topic. This may be followed by a motion dealing with the specific item of unfinished business.
    8. New Business
    New Business: Includes items raised at this meeting, which were not necessarily included on the agenda, and which require membership action. This is the membership’s chance to raise issues that are not included on the agenda.
    To open this part of the meeting, the Chair would say:
    “Is there any new business?”
    For the group to make a decision on any new business brought up at a meeting, remember what is required: a motion, a second, a chance for discussion and a vote.

    9. Good and Welfare
    Good and Welfare: A local may have a Good and Welfare Committee. If it does not, this part of the meeting can be used to discuss such things as sending cards or flowers to hospitalized members, soliciting donations for community food banks, announcing happy events like marriages and births, etc. It may also be used for some planned activity, such as a visiting speaker or training. Consider moving this item earlier in the agenda if such an activity is planned.
    The Chair asks: “Is there any Good and Welfare?”
    10. Adjournment
    Adjourning the Meeting: When the business of the meeting is finished, and if no one has made a motion to adjourn, the Chair should ask for one by saying:
    “Do I hear a motion to adjourn?”
    A motion to adjourn must be seconded, and is then voted on without debate.

    Some Additional Notes for the Chairperson

    The Chair should make sure that all reports given at the meeting are brief and to the point. This will help keep the whole meeting short. People are more likely to attend meetings that are run efficiently and end on time!
    • When a motion is made it must be seconded. The Chair should then state the motion and call for discussion: “It has been moved and seconded that …
    Is there any discussion?”

    Sometimes an amendment to the motion on the floor may be offered. An amendment must be seconded and then discussed. The Chair should say: “An amendment has been made and seconded that … Is there any discussion on the amendment?”
    A vote is first taken on the amendment. After the amendment is decided on, the discussion returns to the main motion (as amended if the amendment was passed).
    A vote is then taken on the main motion.
    • During a discussion of a motion or amendment, make sure that each member speaks only once until all other members have had an opportunity to speak. It is a good idea to alternate speakers for and against the motion. If members begin responding to and addressing remarks to each other, remind the group that all comments should be addressed to the Chair. The discussion and debate is for the group as a whole to participate in. It is not an argument between a couple of
    • A member may raise a “Point of Information.” For instance, he or she might state:
    “Point of Information. I don’t understand the intent of this motion.” The Chair should then clarify the intent of the motion or provide the information being requested.
    You may have to remind the member that a point of information is a question, not a statement.
    • Sometimes a member may rise on a “Point of Order,” saying something like: “Point of Order. This discussion does not pertain to the motion on the floor.” The Chair should make a ruling and say something like: “Your point is well taken and I direct the member speaking to address the motion on the floor.”
    • There are times when discussion on a topic begins but no motion has been made. In this instance, the Chair may call for a motion by saying, “Does the Chair hear a motion to …?” Of course, this motion must be seconded and the Chair should re-state the motion before asking if there is discussion.


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