One of the most valuable tools for an individual
who chairs a large meeting is the opening script. A well-written
script will guide you in taking care of housekeeping items, and
help you set the right tone and structure for the meeting.
Below is a sample script for the annual general
meeting of an imaginary non-profit organization named “Borrowers’
Rights Association of British Columbia,“ scheduled
to start at 2:00 p.m. The language can be modified to suit your
Would the members please take their seats?
We would like to start this meeting on time, at 2:00 PM.
2:00 p.m.: Rap the gavel lightly
only once and then say:
The meeting will please come to order.
Good afternoon everyone, and welcome to
the 50th Annual General Meeting of the Borrowers’ Rights
Association of British Columbia. My name is Jim Smith. I am
the President of the Association and the presiding officer for
I Will start with a few housekeeping
Our bylaws require a fourteen-day notice
for a general meeting, and this requirement was complied with.
Also under our Bylaws, a quorum for membership
meetings is twenty-five members, and we have well over twenty-five
members present. Therefore this meeting is duly convened. I
would remind the members that we need a quorum to be present
throughout the meeting, so please stay until the meeting is
adjourned. With your help, I hope to make this meeting both
inclusive and efficient, so we could adjourn it at a reasonable
I have a few introductions to make. I
would ask those who are being introduced to stand as their names
are called, and I would ask the members to hold your applause
until all have been introduced.
First, the members of your Board of Directors.
Next I will introduce the members of your
senior staff team.
Next I would like to introduce a few important
Finally, I would like to introduce our
parliamentarian, Ms. Ruth James, who will help us with meeting
procedures and rules of order, as needed.
Would you please join me in acknowledging
your board of directors, senior staff, special guests, and Parliamentarian.
The agenda for this meeting was circulated
with the notice. Items 1 to 5 are of a housekeeping nature.
Items 6 and 7 are more substantial and we set aside 30 minutes
for each one of them. It is suggested to aim for a closing time
of no later than 4:00 p.m. This closing time is subject to extension
by a vote of the members at this meeting, if needed.
Are the agenda and the proposed time frame
acceptable to the members?
At this stage, members may request that items be added to the
agenda, under “other business” or “new business.”
Since such additions were not circulated to members prior to the
meeting, it would be best to keep them as informal discussion
items, without forcing a vote on them. Your Bylaws may disallow
binding votes on certain motions without prior notice.
Hearing no objections, the agenda and the
proposed timeframe have been approved.
In some organizations it is customary to have the meeting’s
agenda approved formally, by a motion, in which case the above
script would be changed: “I will now entertain a motion
to approve the agenda and the proposed time frame. (Someone moves
the motion). Is there a second? (someone seconds the motion).
It is moved and seconded that the agenda be approved. Is there
any discussion on this motion? After discussion (if any), take
a vote: “The question is: Shall the agenda be approved?
Those in favor of this motion please raise your hands. Thank you.
Those opposed raise your hands. Thank you. The agenda has been
I would remind the members that, under
our Bylaws, the only types of items that can be voted on at
a membership meeting are _____ and ______. All other items on
the agenda are there for discussion only, and no binding decisions
on them can be made here.
Rules of Order
Next, we need to briefly review the rules
of order for this meeting. The meeting will be run in accordance
with the Society Act of British Columbia, our Bylaws, and Robert’s
Rules of Order Newly Revised. Specifically, here are the main
rules that you’ll need to be aware of:
1. Members who wish to
speak will approach a microphone, wait to be acknowledged by
the Chair, and open by showing their voting cards and stating
2. On each debatable item, each member will
be entitled to speak up to two (2) times. The proposed time
limit on speeches is three (3) minutes. Speaking a third time,
or longer than 3 minutes, will require permission from the members.
3. A member who wishes to speak a second time
on the same item must wait until those who wish to speak on
it for the first time have spoken.
4. Each voting member was given a voting card,
which will be used for identification at the microphone and
for counting votes. Keep in mind that, under our Bylaws, proxy
voting is not allowed, so please do not pass your voting card
to anyone else. Only you can vote on your own behalf.
5. Finally, as your president, I recognize
that some of the issues scheduled to come before this meeting
may be controversial. However, I need to remind you that we
must conduct ourselves in a civil and respectful manner. We
must focus our comments on issues and not on people. Also, please
keep in mind that this meeting is a general meeting. It is set
to deal with issues that apply to general membership, and not
with issues that apply to any of you as an individual. I will
need your cooperation and support to keep us on track.
Are there any questions or concerns about
these rules? Are there any objections to these rules? (Pause)
There being no objections, the rules as presented will apply
to this meeting.
If the meeting is contentious, it may be prudent to ask for a
motion to approve the rules formally, by a show of hands, rather
than doing so by unanimous consent (as shown above).
I hope we can work together to make this,
our 50th anniversary meeting, an effective meeting for our Association.
An annual meeting provides the benefits of Board accountability,
input from the members to the Board, election of your next leaders,
celebration of our successes, and community building. I would
encourage all of you to work together to achieve these goals.
Thank you for your support.
The first item of business is _____.