“Remember the onerous task laid upon the clerk and do all you can to assist. Submit information about matters to come before the meeting in good time and preferably in writing. Avoid if you possibly can any last-minute messages to the clerk.
Give your whole attention to the matter before the meeting. If you want to speak, try to sum up what you have to say in as few words as possible. Speak simply and audibly, but do not speak for effect. A pause after each contribution will enable what has been said to find its rightful place in the mind of the meeting. Do not repeat views which you have already expressed. Do not address another Friend across the room but speak to the meeting as a whole. Be ready to submit to the direction of the clerk. Except in very small meetings, those able to stand to speak should do so.
On some matters, before the meeting, you may feel very strongly. Listen as patiently as you can to all other points of view. Even Friends you consider ill-informed or wrong-headed may make positive or helpful points: watch for them. Do not put into other Friends’ mouths things which they did not say. Be certain of your facts. Avoid stating as facts things which are matters of opinion.
Do not take offence because others disagree with you. Be chary of ascribing, even in your mind, unworthy motives to others. Try not to take things personally. Promote the spirit of friendship in the meeting so that Friends may speak their minds freely, confident that they will not be misinterpreted or misunderstood.
Value the meeting as a social occasion. Introduce strangers to one another. Be approachable; be cheerful. If you are an experienced Friend, invite newcomers to come with you. Help them to understand the business and to get to know the membership.”
Things to think about...
- How would your organisation change if this advice and guidance were used by the members for every trustee or other committee meeting?
- How could you help your organisation change its culture, and processes to ensure that everyone was included? Any stranger is able to approach with confidence, certain of their welcome.