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Quick guide: Online meetings and standing orders

The trials of running online meetings and officers overstepping their authority were laid bare when the chaotic Handforth Parish Council meeting went viral at the weekend. Here the FSA’s training and governance manager Nicola Cave offers advice, and online resources, to supporter groups on hosting online meetings and standing orders

Setting up and running video meetings or chats among family and friends has become familiar to many of us over the last twelve months. But there are pitfalls, and if you want to avoid having to call in Jackie Weaver then there are some simple rules to consider and the FSA has a library of training and resource materials to help supporter groups running meetings efficiently.

Online meetings: Mute is your friend!

When you set up your virtual meeting whether you use Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another platform, make sure that you select the option which mutes all participants upon entry to the meeting.

Muting all will allow you to keep background noise and disruption to a minimum and all participants will be able to hear instructions clearly.

Advise participants to make use of the “hands up” function if they wish to raise a point or contribute to the meeting.

Make sure to explain clearly to participants the rules and how to use all the available functions at the start of the meeting.

The Chairman: Role in a meeting

Some of the actions the chair is responsible for include:

  • Making sure that no one person dominates the meeting, and everyone has a chance to speak.
  • Building on agreement and moving discussions along.
  • Clarifying the issues or positions of various parties before the meeting attempts to come to an agreement.
  • Summarising what has been decided and making sure everyone agrees.
  • Allocating tasks, ensuring responsibility for action is clear and recorded.
  • Keeping to time.

You can find out more about the role of the chair in the training and resource section of our website.

The secretary: A most important role

Society secretaries are often appointed to the board rather than elected as one of the main elements of their role is to ensure that the board of the society are acting in accordance with the society rules and side policies and all actions taken are in the best interests of the members and the community which the society serves.

The secretary may have to hold the board to account if they feel that they have acted inappropriately or contravened the society rules.

We have a whole section covering the very important role of the secretary in the training and resource section of our website.

Standing orders: Read them and understand them!

Standing Orders detail how a meeting should be conducted, what roles everyone has, how issues (or points of order) can be raised, what decisions can be made and how those decisions can be reached.

The FSA have two template Standing Orders which your society can adapt accordingly and adopt – you can download those here.

One which covers how you conduct society board meetings and one which covers how to conduct General Meetings (like your AGM).

Help is at hand

The FSA has a wealth of advice available to help fan groups – and you can browse all of our training and resource tools here. Make sure your meetings go viral for the right reasons!

As always, if you have any questions or need assistance, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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