WHAT HAPPENS AT
A. The Roles of the Presiding Officer and
the Secretary 12
B. Quorum 12
C. A Standard Order of Business 13
I. Reading and Approval of Minutes 14
2. Reports 14
3. Unfinished Business 15
4. New Business 15
D. Agenda: An Alternative to Following a
Standard Order of Business 16
E. Adjournment, Recess, and Standing
at Ease 17
A. THE ROLES OF THE PRESIDING OFFICER AND THE SECRETARY
To keep order, one person is chosen to preside over the meeting. This person enforces the rules and designates who is to speak at any given time. The presiding officer may be elected specifically forte meeting, and is then called the chairman* More commonly, he or she is elected to serve for a term of a year or more, with a title such as president. While actually presiding, the presiding officer is called “the chair.”
To make a written record of what is done, usually called the minutes, a secretary is elected,**
In most organizations that have regular meetings, many members are often absent. The organization should not be bound by decisions taken by an unrepresentatively small number of members who might attend a meeting. To prevent this, a quorum—a minimum number of members who must be present—is required for a meeting to conduct substantive business.
Organizations usually decide what should be the quorum required for their meetings If an organization fails to do this, then—with some exceptions the quorum is a majority of the members. (“Majority” means more than half)
*Chairman is the long-established usage. Several variations—such as “chairperson” or “chair”—are now frequently used.
**The presiding officer and the secretary are the minimum essential officers. RONR (10th ed), p.21, 1. 5—27. Minutes are explained in Chapter 16 of this book and more fully in RONR (10th ed), p.45 1—58.
An organization specifies its quorum in its bylaws which are explained in Chapter 10. When no quorum is present the meeting can do only a very limited number of things, such as set the time and place for another meeting. Any substantive action taken in the absence of a quorum is invalid.t Even when a meeting begins with a quorum present, it loses its right to conduct substantive business whenever enough members leave to bring attendance below the level of a quorum. It can resume substantive business only when enough members return, or other members arrive, to give it a quorum again.