In most meetings, there are many topics on the agenda to be covered in a limited window of time. Therefore, it’s important to be formal and keep the board members focused on the matters at hand. That is why a call to order is used to mark the official commencement of a board meeting. The chairperson of the board of directors is usually responsible for calling a meeting to order. They can directly say, ‘I now call this meeting to order’, or an equivalent phrase to signify the start of the meeting.
It's important that when a meeting is called to order, the responsible member is aware of who is present and who is not. This is vital in case any changes need to be made to the meeting agenda based on the absentees or if the meeting needs to be called off entirely.
Procedure for calling a meeting to order
Here is the proper procedure to be executed for calling a meeting to order:
- Before calling the meeting to order, the chairperson of the board needs to see if a quorum (minimum number of board members who need to be present to conduct business) is present. If the quorum is not at the meeting, it might be suitable to motion to adjourn or recess.
- When it’s time for the meeting to commence, the selected member to preside over the meeting is supposed to call it to order. This is the chairperson of the board. In some cases, it can also be the CEO of the organisation.
- While doing so, the chair is supposed to stand and state, ‘I hereby call this meeting to order’, or a similar phrase in a commanding, firm voice. It’s expected for the chair to include a greeting and the current time and date in the call.
- In some cases, a gavel may be used after the call to signify the commencement of the meeting. Two taps indicate calling the meeting to order.
- After the call to order, the chair should wait a few seconds until silence is observed.
- Then, the company secretary is asked to take the roll call to document the attendees and let the meeting commence.
Call to order vs order of business
- A call to order indicates the beginning of the meeting. The presiding member of the board has to open after confirming the presence of the quorum.
- Order of business is the itemised breakdown of the meeting agenda and specifies the sequence in which certain activities/policies/issues are to be discussed.
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