by Eli Mina
By Eli Mina, M.Sc.

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 organization’s needs.

1:55 p.m.:

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 this meeting.

Housekeeping items

I Will start with a few housekeeping items:

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 hour.


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.

List names.

Next I will introduce the members of your senior staff team.

List names.

Next I would like to introduce a few important guests:

List names.

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. Thank you.

Meeting Agenda

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?

Note: 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.

Note: 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 approved.

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 their names.
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.

Note: 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 _____.




Information about Eli Mina:

Eli Mina, M.Sc., PRP, is a Vancouver (Canada) based management consultant, executive coach, and Registered Parliamentarian. In business since 1984, Eli consults his clients on board effectiveness, chairing contentious meetings, preventing and dealing with disputes and dysfunctions, demystifying the rules of order, and minute taking standards. Eli's clients come from municipal government, school boards, regulatory bodies, credit unions, colleges and universities, native communities, businesses, and the non-profit sector.

Eli is the author of the newly published "101 Boardroom Problems and How to Solve Them." He is also the author of several other books and publications on meetings, shared decision-making and minute taking (see Eli Mina's Books at ). Eli can be reached at 604-730-0377 or via e-mail at


Eli Mina Consulting | Email | Subscribe to Newsletter | 604-730-0377