Toronto350 Meeting Guidelines
Note: This is a living document. It will not address every situation, nor should it. Common sense should be used, and improvisation will be required in some situations. Do your best. :)
Anti-Oppression Working Document
Special Meetings (General Meetings)
Guiding Principles for Meetings
- Everyone has the right to participate in discussion and to know what is going on at all times.
- Everyone recognizes the need to let people speak for themselves.
- Everyone is committed to working together in solidarity and mutuality.
- Everyone is committed to building and sustaining just relationships within the group.
Guidelines for Chairs
Before the Meeting
- At least two days before the meeting, send an email to email@example.com letting everyone know that you will be chairing the meeting, that they should send agenda items to you (with approximate time requirements), and to let everyone know the time, date and location of the meeting.
- Look through the past 2-3 weeks of minutes and make sure there is not anything unresolved that still needs to be discussed.
- Compile the agenda from the submissions, and any unresolved items. You can use this document as a template (go to File and Make A Copy, then Share it with "Anyone with the Link can View", and give the minute-taker access to Edit it). Try to split items into either the campaigns they belong to, or the committees they should be discussed by (see the bottom of this page for the committee descriptions).
- Designate rough time frames for each item/each main section, to be adjusted during the meeting as necessary. Start the meeting 5 minutes after the scheduled start time prompt, and plan the agenda to end after around an hour or 1 hour 15 minutes. This will allow for some flexibility in the schedule, and allow off-topic or low-priority issues to be cut short and moved to the end of the meeting. Setting time frames can help with item prioritization, as it would allow people to tailor their items to fit the time slot, or for re-distribution of time among items if one will take longer than anticipated.
- On the day of the meeting, preferably a few hours before the meeting, send out the agenda that you have compiled. We recommend using a google doc, which you can make publicly viewable and share editing permission with the minute-taker, for them to take the minutes.
- The agenda should follow this approximate structure:
- Intro, welcome and climate report (15mins)
- Campaigns reports (2mins each, 10mins total max)
- Campaign Breakouts (30mins)
- Event debrief summary (the full debrief should happen outside of these meetings)
- Where’s the campaign--broadly speaking
- Do they need volunteers?
- Do they require any decisions that need the group to make that they can’t make themselves?
- Major Proposals and things that require full-group discussion (15mins)
- Volops (assigning volunteers to tasks) (10min)
- Determine next meeting chair, minute-taker and welcomer (1min)
- Very briefly read through upcoming non-Toronto350 climate events of interest (have the links and info in the agenda, so they will be posted in the minutes) (1min)
- Committee Breakouts (10-20mins)
- Flex time and Parking Lot (this allows for things to run long, as well as a space for a time for off-topic or low-priority discussions)
- The Committee Breakouts are for things that don't require full-group participation, but are items that require some discussion. For example, small budget items would be taken care of by the finance committee, and the arts committee might want to discuss an upcoming banner-painting day. If there are unfilled VolOps a VolOp committee could also be formed, which could be a good place for new volunteers to go.
At the Meeting
- Please arrive 15 minutes early to get set up, get on WiFi, and make sure you're ready to go when the meeting starts.
- Start the meeting promptly 5 minutes after the scheduled start time. The exec will support you in doing this, so if you have a softer voice, feel free to ask for a louder voice to yell for you. You can also try "If you can hear me clap once...twice" as a trick to get everyone's attention.
- It is your job to keep the meeting on track, and on time. The meeting needs to finish by 9pm, or very shortly after, so that we don’t outstay our welcome. If people are taking up too much time, it is your job to give them a warning that their time is running out, and then to cut them off. If an agenda item is taking up too much time, you may wish to postpone it to the end of the meeting, or postpone it to another meeting.
- It is also partly your job to try to keep the tone of the meeting civil and safe. You should be supported by the executive in this.
The start of the meeting
- With a respectful and appropriate tone read or paraphrase our "equity poem":
We are all Treaty people on the indigenous land,
of the Anishinaabe and other nations who protect Turtle island
And so that equity is addressed
checking the space you take up must be stressed
but if anything else comes up, let us know,
put our principles to the test! Let’s go!
- Then do a go-around of names, asking people to say their position in the group. You could ask people to say hello to the person who is next to them (who just said their name) so that names are repeated. You could also ask people to say 3 words about a theme of your choice (e.g. How are you feeling about a recent event, or What campaign are you most interested in), but this should be kept short (and be prepared to cut people off once they get to their fourth word!).
- Verbally welcome everyone to the group, particularly new members, and let them know they should feel free to give their input and ask clarifying questions.
- Check if there is anyone who does not wish their name to be recorded in the minutes.
- You can then ask whether people have additional agenda items, and add them to the end of the meeting if they are not already on the agenda.
- With a respectful and appropriate tone read or paraphrase our "equity poem":
- If new people arrive late, you can do a second go-around of names an hour into the meeting. However, don’t let this take up much time, and don’t do more than two.
- If someone requests that an article is in camera, you should decide whether or not this is appropriate. As a group, we generally wish to be as open and transparent as possible, and so in camera items should be rare. However, certain items, especially Direct Actions and items requiring security, are likely to be legitimately in camera, and so they should not be recorded in the minutes. Major proposals, as well as most funding requests, should not be in camera. If you are unsure whether it is appropriate that the item be in camera, you should ask the group, and if necessary, call a vote on it. Make sure to let the group (and minute-taker) know that the item is in camera.
- If the Chair thinks it appropriate, he/she can take the last 5 minutes to go around the room and ask for “Check-Ins.” If an issue has arisen during the course of the meeting, this offers another opportunity for people to offer thoughts and for the Chair to assess how people are feeling. These Check-Ins may be useful for later conflict resolution.
- If the Chair feels that certain voices are dominating discussion, remind the group that we want to allow everyone the chance to contribute and encourage participation from those who are less vocal or confident to speak up
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you’re unsure what to do feel free to improvise, but also be willing to seek the wisdom of the group.
Guidelines for Minute-takers
- Try to get access from the chair for the agenda, or download it if they sent it around. That will enable you to follow the structure of the meeting, adding in the minutes as appropriate.
- At the start of the minutes note the date, and include a list those present, who is chairing the meeting, and who you are as minute-taker. If people come late, make sure to add them to the list of people present. If anyone requests that their name not be recorded, be sure to respect that and not record their name.
- However, generally do not record names.
- Try to record all decisions that are made.
- Try to summarize discussions. You do not need to record every point that every individual makes, but should try to record the general sense and flow of the conversation.
- Particularly contentious points should be recorded.
- It is appropriate to put names when people volunteer for a task, or say they intend to be present at an event. This helps with accountability, as well as allowing event organizers know the volunteers they are able to call on.
- Highlight pending items or items that require immediate attention / mark down priority level on pending items/actions that need immediate attention [1-3 with 3 being most urgent]. Also, highlight volunteer opportunities that are unfilled.
- Do not record in camera items in the minutes, but record that there was an in camera item discussed.
After the meeting
- Try to post minutes in a timely fashion so that the general membership can review the content of that weeks’ meeting well in advance of the next one. If you're unable to post the minutes Tuesday night or Wednesday, please send what you have ASAP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Add any links to the minutes that you were not able to add during the meeting.
- Read through the minutes, making sure they make sense, and add, remove or edit anything that requires it. Ensure the formatting is clear and easy to read.
- Go to the planning form at toronto350.org/minutes, click the red “Post Reply” button in the top left, and clear out all the text in the WYSIWYG editor that appears. Then copy-and-paste the minutes that you took. You may need to clean up the editing a little. You can then click “Post”.
- See this VISUAL GUIDE.
- Email email@example.com and let them know that the minutes have been posted, including the toronto350.org/minutes link and letting people know the time, date and locations of the next meeting, as well as who will chair the meeting (if that is known). CC that person when you send the email, so that others know where to send agenda items. Also, please mention an unfilled volunteer opportunities in the email, and who to contact if someone wants to take it on (if known).
- Send the link to this page to next weeks' Chair and Minute taker.
You're done! Thanks for all your work, and well done!