Meetings are necessary for making decisions, communicating information and developing relationships. Meetings can take up a lot of time and if they are to be of maximum benefit they need to be run properly. The following information contrasts helpful and unhelpful meeting behaviours and then offers some suggestions for ways in which you can improve your meeting.

Helpful meeting behaviours

Helpful meeting behaviours occur where:

  • Everyone who wants to, can have a say and feels safe in expressing their views.
  • The business gets finished on time, but with adequate consideration of the agenda.
  • Everyone is clear about what happened and what decisions were made.
  • There is consideration of people from non-English speaking backgrounds and people with a disability.
  • There is care and sensitivity to people's different cultural backgrounds and experiences.
  • Everyone understands the meeting procedures, the jargon and the abbreviations being used.
  • The business is not too rushed or too slow. The chairperson sets the pace according to the meeting.
  • The group is welcoming and encouraging of new or quiet people.
  • The chairperson is neutral.
  • Everyone feels that their contribution is valued.

Unhelpful meeting behaviours

Unhelpful meeting behaviours occur where:

  • A few people dominate discussion and decision-making.
  • Business is never finished: agenda items are carried on from one meeting to the next, the meeting finishes very late, and everyone feels frustrated.
  • There is confusion or unresolved conflict, anger or fights.
  • New people feel unwelcome or alienated.
  • Formal procedure is used, but only a few people understand it.
  • Jargon and abbreviations are used that only a few people understand.
  • Decision-making is raced through by a dominant chairperson who pushes his/her opinion all the time.
  • The chairperson is biased. 

Meeting format

The format and formality of a meeting will depend on who is at the meeting, what is being discussed, and the type of community association.  While Annual General Meetings of most associations are usually conducted formally, many Management Committee meetings are held around a kitchen table with a cup of coffee.  The larger the group, the more formal the proceedings usually have to be so that order is maintained and the meeting can process its business.  It is generally the task of the person who chairs the meeting to guide the style of the meeting procedure.  An inappropriate meeting procedure style will cause difficulties. 

The provisions of the organisation's constitution, rules and legislation such as Associations Incorporation Act ought to be observed at all times, particularly those requiring accurate minutes and records to be kept.  Under the Model Rules provided to guide incorporated associations (Schedule 4 of theAssociations Incorporation Regulations), the secretary is responsible for ensuring that full and accurate minutes of meetings are kept, including all questions, resolutions and other proceedings.  The chairperson of the meeting is responsible for verifying accuracy of the minutes. 

Meeting procedures

Under the Associations Incorporation Act and the Model Rules, meetings of the Management Committee must be held at least once in every four calendar months.  Meetings can be held via communication technology, for example teleconferencing.  There must be a quorum for a meeting, otherwise any decisions made are not valid. The model rules define minimum numbers for a quorum and set out requirements for adjourning meetings at which a quorum is not present. The Management Committee agenda should be prepared in advance and sent out to everyone attending the meeting. Committee members should be given the opportunity to place items on the agenda at the beginning of each meeting.  They should prepare a brief explanation of the topic, to advise other members of the reason for placing it on the agenda. Also, the reports from the treasurer and staff members as well as urgent letters received by the secretary should be included with the agenda. The committee as a whole should agree to the agenda at the beginning of the meeting as well as to the order of priority given to items being discussed and any time limits placed on items.


The agenda will often have the following framework:

  • Date, time and place of the intended meeting.
  • Welcome to regular people and especially to any visitors or guests.
  • Apologies - acceptance of the names of the people who have advised that they cannot attend.
  • Minutes of the last meeting - the minutes are accepted as accurate or amended so that they are accurate.
  • Business arising - one by one, those items of business which were discussed at a previous meeting and needed action are reviewed to see how the action is progressing. The progress and any further instructions or guidance which is given to those responsible for the continuing work is minuted. This process continues at each meeting and therefore keeps on top of projects which could either go astray or be abandoned as people forget their responsibilities. You should also consider bringing forward any business which was scheduled for the last meeting, but was not actually discussed or resolved.
  • Correspondence - deal with all letters that have been received and sent since the last meeting. This does not mean you should read each one at the meeting, but rather the secretary should present a list of incoming and outgoing letters and seek guidance on important or difficult topics.
  • Treasurer's report - the treasurer gives a report of the organisation's money situation, i.e., what has been received and spent, estimates for the coming month and any other important matters. The report should also reflect whether expenses and income are in line with the budget of the organisation for that period. The Associations Incorporation Act and Regulations require the management committee to approve or ratify the association's expenditure and ensure the approval or ratification is recorded in the management committee's minute book.
  • Staff reports - reports from the staff about the work done, important issues arising, plans, statistics, and so on.
  • Other reports - for example from sub-committees.
  • General business - the general items on the agenda are now discussed.
  • Any other business - this is where you discuss any extra items members have raised.
  • Meeting close, setting date and time for next meeting.

Chairing skills

Chairing a meeting involves a range of facilitation skills. It is important to draw on the individual skills, capacities and strengths of all members. As a chairperson you need to: 

  • Know your agenda - identify which items are the most important and decide how long you need to allow for each of them.
  • Know the rules of your organisation and be clear about the procedures. Understand how your group usually runs its meetings and, if you want to change these procedures, take the time to explain why.
  • Take the lead - introduce each agenda item by giving a quick summary of background points. Start the discussion by asking someone else what they think.
  • Stay neutral - if you feel strongly about an item and want to join in the discussion, leave the chair. Ask someone else to take the role of chairperson for that agenda item.
  • Encourage discussion - however, keep it under control. Let everyone have their turn.
  • Involve everyone - ask the quiet people what they think.
  • Keep the discussion on the topic - if people start talking about something else, suggest it be put on the agenda and discussed at a later time, in the proper order of business.
  • Be democratic and firm - remember it is the committee that must make the decisions.
  • Listen carefully so that you can clarify and summarise where necessary.
  • Mediate when necessary - if there is conflict between members, stay neutral and allow each person to explain their point without interruptions.
  • When a topic has been fully discussed, summarise and put it to the group for a decision or vote. Ask if anyone can put forward a motion. Make sure everyone is clear about what they are deciding on/voting on.
  • Make sure everyone is aware of the decision that has been made and that it is written down in the minutes.

A good and neutral chairperson will reflect the wishes of the committee and guide the meeting through an agreed process. If special problems prompt a change to the agenda, eg, extending the time spent on an item, or calling a special meeting to deal with one issue, then you first need to have the approval of the meeting. Suspend the discussion on the agenda item, obtain approval for special circumstances, then either return to the item or carry on with the agenda, returning later to the item which was a problem. It is wise to set a time limit for discussion of difficult items, otherwise they will be discussed forever. A good chairperson will remind the meeting of the relative importance of different agenda items and schedule the energy of the meeting accordingly.

Using the meeting space

The physical space in which the meeting is held has an enormous impact on people's feelings and reactions. Lighting which is too harsh or too dull, uncomfortable chairs, cramped or poorly ventilated conditions and bad acoustics can all contribute to bad meetings. A comfort break may be needed during the meeting to 'stretch the legs' and regain concentration. Think about sitting around a table: it can give a sense of formality and purpose. Make sure each person has enough table space to work with.  

Intentionally or not, seating arrangements sometimes reflect the structure of organisations. The chairperson at the head of a long table gives an impression of authority. This may not reflect the style of leadership the organisation wishes to present. Having people sitting in a circle is less hierarchical and can be used if the group wants to promote feelings of equality. A seating arrangement with tables in the shape of a "T" can also be useful. This allows people to see each other and also helps to discourage people from chatting to each other whilst business is going on.

This workshop introduces the Unpacking Priorities and Practices (UPP) Framework developed for non-profit organisations by Dr. Aastha Malhotra. Building on an evolutionary review of non-profit management that brings order to the often competing demands faced by organisations; the framework positions...
Legal Aid Queensland has published a series of captioned recordings about their services on their YouTube channel . Videos for community, health and education workers can be found here and include their published community legal education webinars. The next webinar is Child Protection - the law and...
The Queensland Government has set bold and ambitious targets to increase the number of women on boards, and wants to support and encourage others to do the same. New resources are now available to assist those working on boosting women's representation on government, business and community boards,...
Media Statement Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence The Honourable Shannon Fentiman Financial assistance is now available for south-east Queensland’s not-for-profit organisations that have been affected...
From August, the ACNC will be visiting over 25 regional and metropolitan locations in Australia to talk to charities. The Ask ACNC sessions will provide charities the opportunity to hear directly from one of the ACNC’s Commissioners. The sessions include an update on the work of the ACNC, issues...
Disaster resilience is "the ability of individuals, communities, organisations, or countries exposed to disasters and crises and underlying vulnerabilities to: anticipate, reduce the impact of, cope with, and recover from the effects of adversity without compromising their long-term prospects." (...
Australia is becoming more culturally diverse and many Australian organisations need support to effectively manage the opportunities and challenges that this cultural diversity brings. Research demonstrates that organisations that manage cultural diversity well can expect to receive a host of...
Grantseekers are applying for smaller numbers of grants, and have called on funders for greater support through both multi-year grants and grants covering core operational costs, according to the latest research report from the Australian Institute of Grants Management (AIGM). The survey is said to...
The Australian Insitute of Company Directors' (AICD) NFP Governance and Performance Study is an important initiative that helps identify the current challenges and opportunities facing the sector. 2016 is the seventh year they have run the study, making it the largest and longest running NFP...
Australia’s 600,000 charities and not-for-profits, from international aid groups right down to the local tennis club, have recently received a major boost, as Justice Connect’s Not-for-profit Law service launched the acclaimed Information Hub for a national audience. The Not-for-profit Law...


Are you looking for support in Queensland, or trying to find a service that meets your needs? Now you can search oneplace , the service directory hosted by the Queensland Family and Child Commission. oneplace is an easily accessible directory of community services to help Queensland families to get...
In Queensland the Office of Fair Trading regulates Associations and non-profits.
Neighbourhood Houses Tasmania (NHT) has produced these videos on governance for neighbourhood house boards. However, these videos can useful for anyone of a community board. Access the videos under the Governance section in NHT's resources section.
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Business School held a webinar on 'Strategic planning: How to engage your non-profit board and staff'. Here is the full webinar on StudioQ and here are the slides from the webinar . (Word version below). See this supporting document on 'Can Nonprofit...
This guide is for people who are, or are thinking of becoming, board members of a charity registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC). The term 'board members' is used to describe members of the governing body of a charity - the people ultimately responsible for...
Legal Aid have a series of captioned recordings about Legal Aid Queensland services on their YouTube channel . Videos for community, health and education workers can be found here and include their published community legal education webinars. Upcoming webinars can be found on the Information for...
The Queensland Disaster Management website and the Get Ready website have a range of information and useful resources that can assist you to plan and prepare for an emergency. As part of your preparedness and planning for weather events, access regular weather forecast updates from the Bureau of...
A Blue Card Services online learning portal has been launched. The portal contains 10 videos which provide an overview of the legal requirement for organisations to develop a child and youth risk management strategy. View these resources on the Blue Card Services website .
An inaugural benchmarking survey draws together insights from over 100 survey respondents on topics such as governance, strategy, fundraising, risk management and the use of volunteer and professional resources. The survey results highlight that many not-for-profit organisations rely heavily on...
Our Community Pty Ltd has published practical advice on finances for not-for-profit board members. The book is part of CommunitySmart, a national financial literacy program development by Commonwealth Bank Not for Profit Sector Banking and the Institute for Community Directors Australia (part of...
With funding provided by the Australian Government Child Care Services Support Program (CCSSP), Network SA have developed a financial literacy video resource to support directors and management committees of community based child care centres to read and understand financial reporting requirements...
This resource has been developed by Knode and Foresters to support boards and service managers assess their financial position and strategically build their organistion's financial sustainability. Building financial sustainability in your organistions contains tools to help you: Assess where your...


Industrial relations legislation in Queensland can be found on the Fair Work Commission's website . The main pieces of legislation are: Fair Work Act 2009 Fair Work Regulations 2009 Fair Work Commission Rules 2013
There are a range of legal structures which may be suitable for Queensland not-for-profit community groups. The four main options are: an incorporated association: Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (QLD) and Associations Incorporation Regulation 1999 (QLD) a company limited by guarantee:...
Smiling people having a meeting
Lauren Trask, QuIHN

If we combine the concepts of culture, leadership and governance we acknowledge the philosophy and the fundamental pillars that enable the non-government sector to meet the needs of communities that require support. When I work with an organisation my one question is “what level of quality do...

 Charles Clowes
Charles Clowes, Australian Organisation For Quality

Within the organisational development toolkit the capability area of quality systems, innovation and improvement refers to staff and client contribution, innovation, quality culture and management, reporting, adaptability and improvement, legislation and risk management.


Kylie Hogan, National Disability Services

The Community Services Industry is facing a myriad of reforms and challenges now and into the future. 

Challenges such as an ageing population, workforce shortages, sector-wide reforms, technological advances and economic uncertainty are making it more important than ever for...

Ted Flack, Third Sector Management Services

Setting the Scene

The Incorporated Associations Act and Corporations Law clearly state that the ultimate authority in incorporated bodies is the Board (sometimes more formally referred to as Committee of Management). The Board is legally responsible for appointing the Manager and...

Anne Curson, Queensland Council of Social Service

The Community Sector Governance Capability Framework Toolkit can be used for a range of human resource tasks such as assisting with board and...

See videos from StudioQ related to this topic

Share or Print