At the meeting - Key points

Committee roles

Membership of a committee is determined by the Terms of Reference. Two key members of the committee are the committee Chair and the Secretariat. You should introduce yourself to both the committee Chair and the Secretariat and familiarise yourself with their roles.

Requesting an amendment to the minutes

Ask at the meeting, before the commencement of the first agenda item, to have amendments to the previous meeting's minutes made. Don't let matters slip as it may become critical later whether a point was noted or not.

Adding to the agenda

If you are unable to add items to the agenda before the meeting, use other business to have them put on the agenda for the next meeting. You may ask the committee Chair if there can be a standing agenda item for consumer issues.

Moving a motion

A motion is when an item of business or issue requiring a decision is introduced to be considered by the committee. If the motion is passed it will then become a resolution.

Using your newness

As a novice consumer representative you can use your inexperience to your advantage. No one expects you to know everything. Use the opportunity to ask questions such as:

  • would you mind defining that term for me?
  • I don't know the background to that decision - could you fill me in briefly?
  • why didn't that plan work?
  • what was the original intention?

Don't be afraid to ask questions, chances are other members of the committee may also need clarification on issues or additional information.

Keeping the committee to its objectives

While a good Chairperson will keep the discussion as close as possible to the agenda items, any member of the committee can do this. It is okay to remind the committee of its objectives, especially if there is a tendency for members to wander off on tangents.

Recording dissent

At times, it is necessary to have your dissent recorded in the minutes because you will not agree with every decision reached by the committee. Use your right to disagree sparingly, usually when decisions taken are not in the interests of consumers.

Taking notes

Keep your own notes of major decisions, and a summary of useful discussions. Remember to note who makes significant points; remind yourself of anything you have agreed to take action on; and jot down any ideas.

Making your point

If you wish to make a point, make it strongly and then leave it. Don't worry if it is not picked up straight away. If someone else picks it up later, then your point was made twice, and you have discovered an ally on that issue. Be confident that your perspective is relevant and valid and represents the views of consumers.

Leave your own personal story at the door

Remember you have been nominated to provide a broad consumer perspetive. It is important to keep your own experiences separate from the experience of consumers in general.

Using the lunch-break to advantage

The lunch break is an important opportunity to develop trust and to identify allies. Chat informally to other committee members and ask people to fill you in on details and background information.

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