Preparing the agenda is the very first step in getting ready to conduct the meeting. After the agenda is written down and the presiding officer knows what business is going to come up, the next step is writing a meeting script. The benefit of presiding from a meeting script is that all the presiding officer has to do is read it and follow any directions written on the script. Presiding officers don't get lost, the meeting goes smoothly, and less time is wasted.
In writing a script, write in complete sentences and put all directions of things to do in italics. Writing a meeting script is like writing a script for a play. This appendix provides an example - a general script that takes you through a complete order of business. It is easy to adapt this script to many kinds of meetings.
The outline of the agenda that you give to members might look like this:
Pledge to the flag
Reading and approval of the minutes
Social Committee report
Elections and nominations
Unfinished business: donation to the Children's Museum
From this outline, the presiding officer writes the script.
The meeting will come to order. [one rap of the gavel]
The members will rise and say the pledge to the flag. [Lead members in the pledge.]
The first business in order is the reading of the minutes. The secretary will read the minutes of the previous meeting. [Sit down while the secretary reads the minutes.]
[After the secretary sits down, rise and ask] Are there any corrections? [If no corrections, say] The minutes are approved as read.
[If corrections, then say] Is there any objection to making the correction? Are there further corrections? [If none, say] The minutes are approved as corrected.
The next business in order is the reports of the officers, the board, and committees. [Reports of officers are given in the same order as the bylaws list the officers.]
The first report is that of the treasurer. May we have the treasurer's report? [Sit down while the treasurer gives the report.]
[After the report, stand and ask] Are there any questions? [If questions, ask the treasurer to answer.]
[When the report is finished, state] The treasurer's report is filed.
The next report is that of the executive board. Mrs. Smith . . . . [Sit down while report is given. After report, stand and say] Are there any questions? [If questions, ask chairman to answer; then state] The report is filed.
The next report is the report of the Social Committee. Mr. Jones . . . . [Sit down while chairman gives report. Repeat the motion from the Social Committee to the assembly.]
The question is on the adoption of the motion to have the Spring Banquet at Chez Paul on Friday, April 28th, at
7:30 p.m. at the cost of $15.00 per person. Is there any discussion? [After discussion and any amendments, repeat the motion and take the vote.]
All those in favor say "Aye." Those opposed say "No." [Announce the vote and tell what the members have decided.]
The next business in order is the nomination and election of officers. First we will hear the report of the nominating committee. The chair will then take nominations for each office from the floor. After nominations, we will vote on the officers by ballot. Will the chairman of the nominating committee give the report? Mr. Hall . . . . [Sit down while the nominating committee reports; then repeat the nominations from the committee and ask for nominations from the floor for each office. Take the vote.]
The nominating committee has nominated the following:
Janet Stacey for president
Eric Moen for vice president
David Haynes for secretary
Sarah Williams for treasurer
Are there any further nominations for president? [If there are nominations from the floor, repeat them.] Hearing none, nominations are closed for president.
Are there further nominations for vice president? [If there are nominations from the floor, repeat them.] Hearing none, nominations are closed for vice president.
Are there further nominations for secretary? [If there are nominations from the floor, repeat them.] Hearing none, nominations are closed for secretary.
Are there further nominations for treasurer? [If there are nominations from the floor, repeat them.] Hearing none, nominations are closed for treasurer.
The tellers will hand out the ballots. Members must put an X by the name of the candidate they want for a particular office. If you are writing in any of the candidates nominated from the floor, write the name under the office for which the person was nominated, and be sure to put an X in front of the name that you write in. Are there any questions concerning how to mark your ballot? [Give members a few minutes to mark their ballots.]
Will the tellers collect the ballots? [Before the tellers leave the room, ask] Has everyone voted who wishes to vote? [Look around to see if anyone is calling for a teller.]
The polls are closed, and the tellers will count the ballots. We will take a short recess while the ballots are being counted. This meeting stands in recess. [one rap of the gavel]
[When the tellers come in, call the meeting to order and announce the result of the vote. If any offices do not get a majority vote, you have to re-ballot for that office or offices.]
The meeting will come to order. [one rap of the gavel] May we have the report of the tellers' committee? [Sit down while the tellers' committee gives the report. Then read it and announce the vote. Declare the winners; if no winners, take another vote.]
The next business in order is unfinished business. The motion that was postponed to this meeting to give a $100 donation to the Children's Museum is now pending. Is there any discussion?
[Be ready to handle any amendments or other subsidiary motions. Take a vote on each, and then a vote on the final motion.]
The next business in order is new business. Is there any new business?
[Make any announcements.] Our next meeting is next month on Tuesday, instead of Thursday, at 7 p.m. Remember to get your money to the Social Committee before next Thursday for the annual banquet. Are there further announcements? Is there further business?
[Adjourn the meeting.] If there is no objection, we will now adjourn the meeting. [Pause; look around the room. If no one objects, say] Hearing no objection, this meeting is now adjourned. [one rap of the gavel]
A special note about preparation: Before the meeting, call all those giving reports to see if they will be making motions at the end of their reports. If so, have the committee chairman or officer give the motion to you before you write the script.
If an officer makes a motion after his or her report, it needs a second. A committee of more than one does not need a second because the committee has already voted on presenting the motion. In that case, the presiding officer places it before the assembly this way:
Chairman: The question is on the adoption of . . . . Is there any discussion?
After the script is prepared, stand up and read it aloud. You may find some awkward phrasing that you want to rewrite. Practicing aloud also familiarizes you with everything on the agenda and gives you confidence in presiding.
This written script, however, cannot prepare you for any unexpected things that may come up in the meeting. Leave blank spaces in the script where the members can bring up business or amend proposed motions. In the blank spaces, you can write down the motions that members make. If you don't leave blank spaces, put a blank sheet of paper on the lectern so you can write down motions that the assembly makes. Spend time reviewing the motions, the ranking of motions, and how to take the vote on several pending questions. Time spent in preparation makes you a better presiding officer and makes your meetings more efficient.
You can also give this script to the secretary to help him or her follow along, or you can give the secretary an agenda with everything in an outline form.
If you write your script using a computer, you can use the basic script outline for every meeting and make changes easily.