Beginners' guide to conference

If you are a new delegate conference can seem daunting. But remember — everyone in the hall was a new delegate once.

What is PCS conference for?

Annual Delegate Conference (ADC) is the policy making body of PCS. Conference deals with motions from branches and the national executive committee. It also deals with other issues such as elections and financial statements. The order of business is decided by the standing orders committee (SOC).

Role of a conference delegate

Remember you are at conference to represent the views of your members. It is also important to listen to the debate so you can report back to your members and your branch executive committee (BEC).

In order to be fully prepared there are a number of things you need to do before, during and after conference.

Before conference

Make sure you have a copy of the PCS Rules (particularly Appendix A) and the motions booklet (which contains the conference timetable).

Read and check all your papers and familiarise yourself with the motions on the agenda.

Make sure you are clear about your branch mandate.

Mark up your agenda with your branch's attitudes (as decided at your mandating meeting) - ie 'support', 'oppose', 'listen and decide' etc.

Consult with other delegates from your branch and decide who is going to speak on motions or if you are going to move 'reference back'.

Prepare your speeches if you are moving a motion, consult with your seconder - or vice versa.  If you do not have a seconder for your motion and don't know how to get one speak to the standing orders committee.

At conference

Remember to represent your members' interests. This could be in speeches or by how you cast your vote make sure you attend the new delegates meeting where members of PCS organising and learning services and the standing orders committee will be present — if there's anything you're not sure about, just ask.

Sit in the seats allocated to your branch and remember you are expected to attend all debates.

Remember to wear your badge - otherwise you won't get in!

Check you have all the standing orders committee reports (some of which will be published immediately before and during conference) and keep your motions booklet up to date.

Make sure you listen to the debates. Indicate early when you wish to speak in a debate by raising your hand to catch the conference chairperson's eye and be ready to get to the rostrum quickly.

Try to be yourself when speaking and don't go over the time limit.

Mark up your agenda with decisions and who has been elected to various delegations and committees.

Remember to vote at the right time in ballots.

After conference

Remember to report back to your members and branch executive committee on the decisions that were made. Ideally, this should be done both verbally and in writing.

Motions booklet

All motions marked 'A' on the agenda are for discussion but remember some markings or the order of motions may be changed through successful 'references back' at the start of conference.

In practice, due to the number of motions submitted and the time available for debate, not all of those shown will be discussed.

Speaking at conference

Speaking on motions may seem nerve-racking, but the main thing to remember is to try to be yourself. Prepare your speech thoroughly and keep to time limits.

Everyone, even old hands, get nervous. This shows you care about the issue. Remember:

  • speak from the rostrum
  • introduce yourself giving your name and branch
  • stand about a foot from the microphone — you don't need to shout, the microphone will amplify your voice
  • don't touch or tap the microphone - it will sound like an explosion to those on the conference floor!
  • put your notes on the rostrum, take a deep breath then start
  • don't say "this is the first time I have spoken at conference" and
  • don't just read out the motion verbatim
  • make sure, if nothing else, you get your key points across
  • stay within the time limits - and remember you don't have to take up the total time allocated

Other points you need to keep in mind are that no speaker may speak more than once in any debate except in the following circumstances:

A mover can reply to a debate. You can only reply to points raised in opposition to your motion in the debate.

Where remission is sought, the mover has the right to comment before the vote. If the vote for remission is lost, you can still reply to the debate.

If a speaker feels they have been misunderstood they are allowed, at the discretion of the chair, to make an explanation.

Opposing a motion: where there is opposition to a motion, the chair must ensure it is heard in debate (although if there are many delegates seeking to speak in opposition not all may be called).

Meetings at conference

Meetings are arranged for both trainee delegates and new delegates. A number of briefings, fringe meetings and social events are also organised, so outside the main conference sessions you can find out more - or just go out and have a good time!

Don't be afraid to ask

If there is anything you don't understand or want to ask, don't hesitate to approach any member of the standing orders committee who are located at the front of the conference hall.

Updated 24 Jan 2017

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