Chairing an Annual General Meeting (AGM) can be intimidating. All eyes are on you and people look to you for leadership. Plus, a Chairperson should be familiar with the business being discussed, as well as proper protocols and procedures, all while being time sensitive. So, preparation is key to success.
Below are a few tips to help you prepare for the meeting. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all tool, so adapt it to each meeting and the business you need to discuss.
Prior to the AGM, finalize the agenda for the meeting. Include any resolutions or business the board wants to propose and proposals it receives from members. Then send the agenda out to your members. Remember to include details about the meeting (when, where, etc.). Also, check your bylaws to find out how far in advance this information should be sent out.
A resolution is a proposed formal decision, action, or policy adoption or change. Often the board has members vote on decisions, such as taking on debt or changing bylaws, impact the entire membership. Before a resolution goes to vote or is distributed to the membership, the board should approve it.
In some cases, resolutions should be reviewed by an expert, like a lawyer. For example, bylaw amendments should be made in consultation with someone that’s familiar with governing legislation.
Any member-initiated proposals or resolutions should be screened by the board. This step is meant to ensure compliance with the co-op’s bylaws and avoid negative impacts on the business. All resolutions should follow a standard format, be signed by the president, and filed with the minutes.
Develop a process for finding nominees for the board. A nominations committee is a popular choice. But assigning a single coordinator or taking nominations from the floor (ie. having people nominate others during the annual general meeting) are also options. Whatever tactic you choose, clearly communicate the choice to the co-op’s membership. The better members understand the process, the smoother the meeting should go.
And, if you need to vote on a resolution, arrange for a small group or an individual to distribute, collect, and count the ballots at the meeting. Learn more about the election process.
Finalize the co-op’s financial report prior to the meeting. Some boards present a budget. And most co-ops submit year-end financials to an auditor in preparation for the AGM.
If you require an audit, ensure they can provide a report for the meeting. For co-ops that require an auditor, recommend an auditor to the membership for appointment in the coming fiscal year. Often co-ops recommend the previous year’s auditor.
The board should appoint people to the different roles needed at the meeting. Typically, the president will chair the AGM and the board secretary will be the secretary for the meeting (or a staff member can fill this role). The board should also decide who will present reports (e.g. manager’s report), coordinate the election, or, if needed, serve as ‘parliamentarian.’ (A parliamentarian oversees the meeting to help ensure people follow proper procedures).
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