The agenda of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) will depend on the legal structure of the organisation, how actively it has been operating over the past year and how much engagement the board is seeking from the owners.

A basic agenda might include
a. Minutes from the last Meeting
b. Appointment of a new Trustee (which might not need to be done at a meeting or can be done at a special meeting)
c. The Annual Accounts
d. Any current or planned projects or current issues.

The only business required at an AGM for a company registered under the
Companies Act is:

  1. The appointment of an auditor
  2. Fixing the auditors remuneration.
  3. Other business at the annual meeting usually includes
  • Consideration of the financial statements
  • b. The election of directors.

It is not however, unusual in an organisations for the AGM to be used as an opportunity for the board and the owners to discuss the strategic direction of the organisation, how and why decisions have been made and future factors that may influence the direction and performance of the organisation.

Whatever the type of agenda chosen for the AGM, preparation is vital so that the meeting runs smoothly and achieves what it needs to. In particular, the Chair needs to be well-briefed and prepared to manage the meeting so that it meets its objectives.

Here is an example of what could be expected of the Chair at an AGM:

Procedure for an Annual General Meeting; Notes for the Chair

  • Call the meeting to order
  • Introduce yourself
    Welcome all to the second/third. twentieth etc Annual General Meeting of Siya Ltd.
  • Introduce other directors/trustees
  • Declare any apologies from directors

Chairman to say:

“I confirm that under the Constitution/Trust Deed of Siya Ltd (for example) we have a quorum and I declare the meeting of shareholders/beneficiaries properly constituted.”

Writing the minutes of meetings

It is most likely that you will make rough notes during the meeting, then convert these to your finished report of the meeting after it has finished.

Remember that you are summarising the most important issues, so you need to use a number of skills at the same time

• good listening skills
• the ability to summarize
• good note-taking skills

Your job is to distinguish the less from the more important points of discussion. For this you can use your own system of abbreviations.

At the meeting

• listen attentively, jotting down key words
• use the agenda document as a template
• leave enough space between items for your jottings
• summarise what’s said, using a system of shorthand
• ask for clarification if necessary

If the discussion was about The Allied and Providential Assurance Company for instance, you would not write out that name in full ever time. APAC would be a perfectly useful abbreviation in your notes.

Many people find it difficult to listen carefully and make notes at the same time. This becomes even more difficult if they are an active member of the meeting. For that reason a minutes secretary is not normally expected to participate as fully in a meeting as the other members.

If the meeting is not too big, you can probably record people’s contributions using their initials (KP, HT, MA) rather than their full names. You can also do this in any minutes so long as the names appear in full in the list of attendees.

The first time the name of an organisation is mentioned, it should be spelled out in full – as in Pinetown Accountants and Tax Consultats, or the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Trust. Thereafter, you can use acronyms formed by the initial letters of its name (PATC and QEJT). In very big meetings, these names and acronyms are often listed in an appendix.

Prepare in advance as much as possible. Make sure you have a copy of the minutes of the last meeting, and that they have been circulated to other committee members.

Making a record of a meeting is always easier if you know the agenda in advance, and even if you know who might be in attendance.

Make sure you have a copy of the meeting agenda. Get to the meeting early so that you can record the names of other people as they arrive – if you know them.

If you don’t know the attendees, wait until the meeting has started, then circulate a blank sheet on which people are asked to PRINT their names. Don’t circulate this attendance sheet before the meeting starts, because if some people arrive late, the chances are that they will be missed.

It might happen that an item on the agenda is not discussed or is deferred for some reason until the next meeting. You should nevertheless record this fact, so that a future meeting is able to check on the status of the item and decide if it is still relevant.

Some meetings can generate discussions which become arguments, with differences of opinion expressed quite forcefully. A great deal of tact and diplomacy is required in recording such discussions.

The best way to deal with such occasions is to record the fact that there was disagreement, but without going into any details. You can use a form of words such as “There was disagreement concerning the choice of contractor for the project, but following discussion it was agreed that …’

Do not intrude any of your own opinions into the record of events. Your task is to appear neutral and impartial – even if you have strong feelings about the topics being discussed.

Try to get agreement on the date of the next meeting before the meeting ends and people leave. That strictly is the chairperson’s job, but you will be doing yourself a favour in getting agreement on this issue.

If some points of the discussion are still not clear to you, it’s a good idea to ask speakers to clarify matters to you before they leave, otherwise you will have extra work in tracking this information when you come to write the formal minutes.

Notes on the Agenda

1. The name of the meeting or group

This can be very important in some cases – particularly if the minutes of the meeting will be circulated widely outside the group itself, or even to the public.

2. Those in attendance

The meeting might be composed of delegates or representatives from a variety of organisations. It’s the secretary’s job to note both their names and the organisations they represent.

List the names in alphabetical order. This avoids any suggestion of priority or importance.

3. Minutes of the last meeting

It is usual for these to be looked at briefly, with a view to making sure that everybody agrees they are a correct record.

It might be necessary to note the outcomes of any decisions taken on which action has been taken

Larger or on-going issues very often appear on the agenda of the current meeting, and discussion of them can be deferred until these items are considered.

4. Agenda item One

You should keep the notes for each agenda item separate and quite distinct from each other on the page.

Leave plenty of space between each of your notes

Template for Meeting Minutes

1. Name of Organisation or group

2. Name of Meeting – it might be a regular meeting or one with a specific purpose

3. Date of Meeting

4. Names of those attending – plus their positions or the organisations they represent

5. Apologies for absence – those giving their apologies for non-attendance

6. Agenda item One – This is usually the minutes of the last meeting

7. Agenda item Two

8. Agenda item Three … and so on …

12. Date of the next meeting

13. Any other business