Meetings and decision making
In conducting your meetings, there are a number of things to bear in mind in order to ensure maximum effectiveness and proper decision making. Let’s look at each of them in turn.
It sounds like a simple point, but ensuring that the meeting environment is comfortable and conducive to the business to be transacted should not be underestimated as a contributor to its success.
- Seating arrangements for the board and any members of staff delivering presentations or invited to attend should be given due thought
- Minimise external noise and distraction
- Ensure participants can access water (or tea/coffee)
- Provide a break if the meeting is longer than a few hours
- Access and audio-visual requirements should be appropriate for the number of people attending
- The table should be arranged so that the chair (and governance lead) can see all participants and acknowledge any board member seeking to ask a question
- The governance lead may sit close to the chair in order to provide technical guidance and seek clarification without unduly disturbing the meeting
Care should be taken to ensure that the meeting venue and its facilities are accessible to all board members, with particular consideration for those with specific requirements, and that all board members can see or hear all discussions and information and participate fully in the proceedings.
Of course, with recent COVID-19 restrictions, board meetings may be required to be held online via the use of software such as Zoom, Teams or others suitable your organisation. The organisation will need to ensure that all participants have the appropriate equipment and are comfortable with the platform to be used. For more on this, see The Chartered Governance Institute’s .
The quorum is the minimum number of representatives required – usually set out in the governing document – in order to legitimately conduct the business of the organisation and make decisions on behalf of stakeholders. The governance lead should be available to advise the chair as to whether the meeting has reached its quorum and can therefore be viewed as a legally constituted meeting for the purposes of the organisation.
The governance lead should be alert to ensuring that the meeting remains quorate throughout, especially with regards to board members leaving the meeting for formal and informal purposes, and for those matters where a conflict of interest policy applies. This is perhaps an even more important task in a virtual environment where it can be less straightforward to track the number of members in attendance at any given time.
Ensuring that a meeting starts and finishes on time is a task that requires great skill from the chair in keeping the meeting moving while remaining focused on the business to be transacted. Th