Board meetings are called for the purpose of governance in accordance with the bylaws, policies and state law. They require a quorum of the directors and the support of staff.

What do you do when guests attend?

Some organizations encourage members to attend. Others are surprised to see stakeholders or persons with opinions sitting at the board table.

Room Setup

Organizations expecting guests often set up a gallery for observers. The intent is to be sure guests are not interrupting or holding side-bar conversations during the meeting. When only a few guests attend, they might be seated at the board table apart from those who have a vote.

Some guests may think they have a "right" to express their opinions, ask questions or even vote. They may need guidance. Guests should understand they don't have the floor or the right vote. They are expected to respect the same protocols as the board:

  • Discussions and documents are treated in confidence.
  • The chief elected officer is the spokesperson, and lines of communication have been established.
  • An agenda guides the discussion; new ideas might be recognized under "new business," if time allows.
  • The board is expected to comply with all laws and governing documents; the same is required of guests.
  • Guests should understand that the board may need to go into executive session with only board members in the room.
  • The board chair will recognize persons by name before they are asked to speak.


When guests attend, consider a sign-in sheet or guest appearance card. The purpose is to recognize and introduce them to meeting protocols.

The organization may adopt a policy, for example: