Meeting Terminology 

To feel more at ease in meetings, it is necessary to be acquainted with the meeting terminology. The following terms are mostly applicable to formal meetings such as management committee meetings rather than workplace meetings. However terms such as ‘agenda’, ‘apologies’, ‘minutes’ and ‘business arising’ are common to most different meetings.

Agenda

The plan for a meeting, it lists the items to be discussed in the order in which they will be discussed.

Amendment

Proposed modification to a motion which is not in conflict with the general thrust of that motion. If the amendment is adopted it becomes part of the original motion (now called ‘motion as amended’ or ‘substantive motion’)

Apologies

Formal notifications of inability to attend a meeting

Brainstorming

A technique used to gather ideas from a group, it involves the members of the group thinking of as many ideas as they can in a short period of time.

Business Arising       

Discussion on any matter recorded in the minutes of the previous meeting.

Chair

The person who controls the conduct of the meeting, a sort of umpire.

Consensus

A type of group decision making. It involves coming to a decision acceptable to all members of the group without a vote being taken.

Constitution

A document setting out the fundamental principles governing the running of an organisation. It normally includes such things as the goals of the organisation, membership requirements,  rights and fees, meeting times, voting rights and standing orders for meetings. More information on the constitution of an association

General Business   

The body of the meeting where the main objectives of the meeting are discussed

Minutes

The formal written record of a meeting. Copies are circulated to attendees and those who apologised (and sometimes to other interested parties), and formally confirmed at the next meeting as being a true record.

Motion       

A formal statement, usually involving some proposed action, put to a meeting for discussion and subsequent decision by vote.

Mover        

The proposer of a motion

Motion of Dissent

A formal statement involving some proposed action, put to a meeting for discussion and subsequent decision by vote.

Other Business   

An item on the agenda (usually the last) that provides an opportunity for those present to suggest additional matters for discussion.

Point of Order

A formal complaint (to the chair person) at a meeting that a speaker is being irrelevant, unduly repetitive, exceeding prescribed time, speaking out of turn or in some way violating standing orders.

Procedural motion

A motion aimed at changing the sequence or timing of events at a meeting, rather than one which addresses an agenda item.

Quorum

Minimum number (or percentage of those invited) required to be at a meeting for it to proceed legitimately.

Seconder   

Someone who formally supports the mover of a motion

Standing Orders

An organisation’s rules that govern how its meetings should be run.

The above meeting terminology is by no means the full list. However the above terms are commonly used in formal meetings and beneficial to learn. It is often the case that the constitution of the organisation will provide further explanation of the common meeting terminology.

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