What Is a Consent Agenda?

Consent Agenda / Consent Agendas

A consent agenda — or a consent calendar according to Robert’s Rules of Order — is a valuable tool used to streamline board meeting processes. It is a component of the meeting agenda that presents multiple routine, non-controversial topics as one agenda item. The grouped items can be approved by filing a single motion and voting on it. A board member can always ask for the removal of a particular item from the consent agenda if they believe it requires further discussion before approval.

Which items would you find in a consent agenda?

The following items are typically included in a consent agenda:

  • Routine or recurring items such as the previous meeting’s minutes.
  • Procedural decisions, including committee and staff appointments that need confirmation.
  • Non-controversial topics that do not require discussion such as department and financial reports.
  • Items requiring an official vote that the members have previously discussed and agreed upon, including final approvals of reports and proposals.

Benefits of a consent agenda

Here are the benefits of a consent agenda:

  • Enhanced productivity

Grouping recurring and already-addressed issues minimises the discussion around these topics, thereby saving the board’s valuable time and improving meeting efficiency.

  • Reduced meeting fatigue

Going over and approving each routine item that does not require further deliberation can lead to meeting fatigue. By grouping these items in a consent agenda, directors can approve them all in one motion instead of enduring the process of filing multiple motions.

  • Shifting the focus to more important matters

A consent agenda leaves more room for the board to redirect their focus towards strategic planning and taking care of critical company matters during meetings.

Best practices for a consent agenda

The best practices for a consent agenda include:

  • Only including non-controversial items

For a consent agenda to work properly, all the items must be familiar to the board, require no discussion and have no prior conflicts.

  • Using clear and concise descriptions

The topics should be well-defined so that no further clarification is required by any member.

  • The opportunity for members to remove items

The board members should have the option to remove an item from the consent agenda if they think that it should not be approved without deliberation.

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