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Giving Good Meeting: Robert’s Rules and Efficient Meetings

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Giving Good Meeting: Robert’s Rules and Efficient Meetings. Overview. The Basics Aims of the Rules Moving Things Along Kinds of Motions Rules of Debate ABC’s of Motions Voting and Disposing. The Basics: Aims. Enough members present to make a decision Everybody’s equal

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slide1
Giving Good Meeting:

Robert’s Rules andEfficient Meetings

overview
Overview
  • The Basics
    • Aims of the Rules
  • Moving Things Along
    • Kinds of Motions
    • Rules of Debate
    • ABC’s of Motions
    • Voting and Disposing
the basics aims
The Basics: Aims
  • Enough members present to make a decision
  • Everybody’s equal
  • Protected if absent
  • One thing at a time
  • One time per meeting
  • One person at a time
  • Silence = Consent
slide4
Moving Things Along:

The Nuts and Bolts of Getting Things Done

moving things along
Moving Things Along:
  • Kinds of Motions
  • Rules of Debate
  • Motion Procedures
  • Voting Procedures
making motions
Making Motions

The Presiding officer establishes that a quorum is present and that it is proper for the meeting to proceed.

One aim of Robert’s Rules is to protect the rights of those members absent from the meeting

kinds of motions
Kinds of Motions

Two types of motions can be made:

  • Main Motions
  • Secondary Motions
kinds of motions8
Kinds of Motions

Main Motions…

  • Bring before the assembly a new subject which requires the assembly to take some action
  • Allow the group to get things done
  • Express the actions of the group
main motions
Main Motions

For example

“I move that SGO buy new computers for the professors in the Political Science Department”

kinds of motions10
Kinds of Motions

Secondary Motions

  • Privileged: Motions that don’t relate to the main motion or pending business, but to the members and the organization.
  • Subsidiary: Motions that help the assembly treat or dispose of a main motion
  • Incidental: Motions incidental to the conduct of the meeting, rather than to a main motion
kinds of motion
Kinds of Motion
  • Motions are arranged in a hierarchy, denoting which have precedence over which
  • That ordering allows for efficiency and clarity as we always know which motions are in order when
slide12
Highest level

13. Fix the time to adjourn12. Adjourn11. Recess10. Raise a question of privilege 9. Call for orders of the day 8. Lay on the table 7. Previous question 6. Limit or extend limits of debate 5. Postpone to a certain time 4. Commit or refer to committee 3. Amend 2. Postpone indefinitely 1. Main motion

Lowest level

kinds of motions13
Kinds of Motions
  • During the meeting, motions higher on the list are always in order over those lower on the list; not in the order in which they were made
  • Vote on higher ranking motions before lower ranking ones
  • Work way “up” and “down” the ladder
ground rules
Ground Rules

going, we first need to review some basic ground rules for how to debate and discuss.

To get all that motion and ladder stuff

rules of debate
Rules of Debate
  • Need a motion in order to have a debate; no motion, no debate
  • One person speaks at a time, anyone who wants to speak must be recognized by the presiding officer
  • Debate is limited to the motion pending
  • The maker of the motion has the right to speak first on the motion
  • The maker of the motion cannot speak against the motion.
rules of debate16
Rules of Debate

Speaking Order:

  • People speak in order of recognition by the chair
  • Mover of the motion has first priority whether or not recognized first by chair
  • New speakers have precedence over people who have already spoken
  • Chair should try when possible to alternate speakers for and against the motion
rules of debate17
Rules of Debate

Speaking Time:

  • No member may speak more than twice on any one motion in any one meeting
  • Speech is limited to 10 minutes (unless modified by a motion concerning debate)
rules of debate18
Rules of Debate

Debate Manners:

  • Only speak when called upon
  • Direct all comments to the chair
  • When addressing the chair (and by extension the assembly) rise to speak.
  • Don’t be disruptive
  • You can make corrections
  • The chair can interrupt you (not vice-versa)
debates and the chair
Debates and the Chair
  • The role of the chair during debate is to ensure that the debate is fair
  • Chair has same rights as other members in participating in debate; however, as the arbiter of the rules, the chair should limit participation in debate
debates and the chair20
Debates and the Chair
  • If chair does join debate, he/she abdicates the position of chair and transfers power to the next highest ranking officer who has not spoken on the motion.
  • If all officers have spoken on the motion, the chair asks permission from the members to appoint a temporary chair.
tips for effective debates
Tips for Effective Debates
  • When you get the floor, begin by stating which side of the motion you support
  • Organize your thoughts before you seek the recognition of the chair
  • Conclude your remarks by restating your position on the motion
slide22
The ABC’s

of

Motions

abc s of motions
ABC’s of Motions
  • Make a motion
  • Second the motion
  • Chair states the motion
  • Debate the motion
  • Take the vote
  • Announce results
abc s of motions24
ABC’s of Motions
  • Make a Motion
    • Secure the recognition of the chair
    • Be precise
    • Begin with “I move that…”
abc s of motions25
ABC’s of Motions
  • Second the Motion
    • A voting member of the body must express support for consideration of the motion (“seconding” the motion)
    • Seconding insures that at least two members think the issue is important enough to take up the membership’s time
    • The person seconding the motion need not agree with the motion, only with the idea that the issue should be addressed by the group
abc s of motions26
ABC’s of Motions
  • Second the Motion (continued)
    • Committee recommendations do not need seconds (since the members constituting the committee effectively act as seconds in approving the committee recommendation)
    • Co-sponsored resolutions do not need seconds, again for the obvious reason that co-sponsors satisfy the reasons for requiring a second.
abc s of motions27
ABC’s of Motions
  • Chair states the motion
    • This formally places the motion before the assembly; at this point, the motion belongs to the group, not the individual who moved it.
    • This makes sure the group has an official agreed upon wording
abc s of motions28
ABC’s of Motions
  • Debate the Motion
    • During debate a motion is considered “on the floor” or “pending” because we haven’t yet figured out what to do with it
    • When the motion is on the floor, members can:
      • Amend it
      • Postpone it
      • Lay it aside
      • Refer it to committee
    • This is where the “motion ladder” and rules of debate come into play
slide29
Highest level

13. Fix the time to adjourn12. Adjourn11. Recess10. Raise a question of privilege 9. Call for orders of the day 8. Lay on the table 7. Previous question 6. Limit or extend limits of debate 5. Postpone to a certain time 4. Commit or refer to committee 3. Amend 2. Postpone indefinitely 1. Main motion

Lowest level

abc s of motions30
ABC’s of Motions
  • Debate the Motion
    • Remember to keep the debate focused on the motion
    • During debate, avoid referring to another member by name instead use:
      • The office/position (“the president stated…”)
      • “The previous speaker”
      • “The member who made the motion…”
abc s of motions31
ABC’s of Motions
  • Putting the Motion to a Vote
    • When all members who want to speak have spoken, debate ends and the motion is put to the assembly for a vote
    • Remember, the motions express the will of the group, so we need the approval of the membership before doing anything
    • Presiding officer restates the motion to remind members of the exact issue being voted on.
    • Presiding officer then directs the membership on the voting method to be used
abc s of motions32
ABC’s of Motions
  • Putting the Motion to a Vote
    • Chair calls for both those in favor (“ayes”), those opposed (“nays”)
        • Note: The chair should not call for abstentions, since it effectively asks a member to vote not to vote, and that’s incoherent.
    • The chair announces the results
    • The chair determines whether a motion has passed for failed
      • If unsure of the results, the chair can and should call for another vote to better ascertain the results
abc s of motions33
ABC’s of Motions
  • Some votes call for different calculations for the margin of victory
  • A plurality election is when the candidate that receives the most votes wins:

For example:

If 12 members, results appear as:

Candidate A: 5

Candidate B: 3

Abstention: 4

Who wins?

abc s of motions34
ABC’s of Motions
  • For example:

If 12 members, results appear as:

Candidate A: 5

Candidate B: 3

Abstention: 4

“A” wins. Remember, silence equals consent, so the abstentions do not count as votes against the candidate

Plurality votes never apply to motions and floor action. They may apply to elections for officers though, depending on the bylaws of the organization.

abc s of motions35
ABC’s of Motions
  • A majority vote election requires that the winning motion receive a majority of the votes cast
  • For example:

If 12 members, results appear as:

Ayes: 5

Nays: 3

Abstention: 4

What wins?

abc s of motions36
ABC’s of Motions

For example:

If 12 members, results appear as:

Ayes: 5

Nays: 3

Abstention: 4

Ayes win. Remember, abstentions do not count as votes cast. Only 8 votes were cast, and 5 of 8 is a majority (tie plus one).

abc s of motions37
ABC’s of Motions
  • Occasionally Robert’s Rules calls for a 2/3rds majority rather than a simple majority.
  • The general guide for knowing when a simple majority or 2/3rds majority is required is whether the motion is going to take away rights of the members.
  • If the motion is taking rights away, then it requires a 2/3rds vote.

For example:

motions to: limit debate, postpone indefinitely, end debate, suspend the rules

abc s of motions38
ABC’s of Motions
  • Complete Announcement
      • Which side has the vote
      • Whether the motion passed or failed
      • The effect of the vote
      • The next item of business
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Remember, the rights of the organization supercede the rights of individuals. You are acting as a group,
  • The rules are designed to balance the rights of the group as a whole, of subgroups within the group, and of individual members.
  • The rules should be used to help, not hinder, collective decision making.
conclusion40
Conclusion

“Use your judgment: the assembly may be of such a nature through its ignorance of parliamentary usages and peaceable disposition, that a strict enforcement of the rules, instead of assisting, would greatly hinder business; but in large assemblies, where there is much work to be done, and especially where there is liability to trouble, the only safe course is to require a strict observance of the rules.”

resources
Resources
  • Robert’s Rules of Order 10th Edition

The latest update of the classic.

Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in most bookstores

resources42
Resources
  • Robert’s Rules in Plain English

Follows the standard Robert’s pretty closely, but tries to tone down some of the more obscure phrasing and vocabulary issues.

ISBN: 978-0-06-078779-0

resources43
Resources

yet easy to read versions of the classic.

As these titles suggest,

both are comprehensive

resources44
Resources
  • Online Resources
    • Robert’s Rules Online

(http://www.rulesonline.com/start.html#rror--00.htm)

    • Parliamentary Procedure Online

http://www.parlipro.org/

quorum
Quorum

Remember, unless otherwise stated in the bylaws, a quorum is defined as a majority of the membership

In the absence of a quorum, the body can:

  • Set time for another meeting
  • End (adjourn) the meeting
  • Take a short break with hope that a quorum forms
  • Try to gather enough members to constitute a quorum
privileged motions
Privileged Motions

These motions are of such urgency that they can interrupt any business on the floor, without debate

For example:

“Group privileges” like conditions in the meeting room, inability to hear, etc.

“Personal privilege” like a speaker is misstating my remarks

subsidiary motions
Subsidiary Motions

These include motions to amend the main motion, refer to committee, lay on the table, or postpone debate

For example:

“I move that the words ‘Apple MacBook Pro’ be inserted before ‘computers’ in the motion authorizing Local 1839 to purchase computers for the faculty in the Political Science Department.”

incidental motions
Incidental Motions

Incidental secondary motions relate to the procedures of the meeting, rather than to the substance of the business

For example:

Challenging a ruling from the chair, to ask a question about the rules, to request voting in particular fashion (more later on that)

orders of the day
Orders of the Day
  • The motion to call for “orders of the day” is a call to the presiding officer to get back to the items listed on the agenda
  • The motion can be made at any time, by any member, and is not debatable and is not voted on.
  • If the membership wants to continue on the diversion, a motion can be made to extend debate (Step 8) or the issue can be taken up at the end of the meeting when the orders of the day are completed
tabling
“Tabling”

There are three motions that are commonly confused at meetings.

  • If a speaker wants to temporarily set a motion aside, then the motion is to “lay on the table” (Step 8); it is not debatable and is not amendable.
  • If a speaker wants to “kill” a motion and never take it up, the motion is to postpone indefinitely (Step 2); it is debatable.
  • If a speaker wants to delay until a specific time later in the meeting or in the agenda of a subsequent meeting, the motion is to “postpone” (Step 5); it is debatable.
previous question
Previous Question

The “Previous Question” is a motion to call for a vote on the motion currently on the floor.

It requires a 2/3rd vote, and is not debatable.

disruption
Disruption

During debates, don’t:

  • Talk to others while someone has the floor
  • Walk around the room
  • Disrespect the rulings of the chair
comments
Comments
  • When you have the floor, address your remarks to the chair
  • Confine your remarks to the merits of the motion on the floor
  • Do not discuss the personality or motives of individual members.
corrections
Corrections

If, during debate, you hear information that you know is inaccurate, you have the right to call attention to the erroneous information and share the accurate information with the group. Of course, be polite, and make sure you have recognition from the chair. Don’t just shout out “You’re wrong!”

interruptions
Interruptions
  • It’s rarely in order to interrupt another speaker, and never to do so to challenge a point raised or to shout the person down or otherwise prevent the person from speaking
  • The Chair, however, can interrupt other speakers
  • If the chair interrupts you, give him/her the benefit of the doubt. Stop talking and listen to what the chair says.
precision
Precision
  • Make sure the motion states exactly what you want the organization to do

“I move that we form a committee to investigate buying computers for the Poli Sci Department” vs.

“I move that we form a committee to purchase computers for the Poli Sci Department

precision58
Precision

“I move that Local 1839 host a party Saturday to honor the Poli Sci faculty”

vs.

“ I move that Local 1839 host a party Saturday in the Gothic Lounge and members should bring food and drink so the Local doesn’t have to spend any money”

precision59
Precision

Only make motions you agree with

Remember, you can’t speak against your own motion

Make Positive Motions

“Don’t make negative motions”

For example

“I move that we do not oppose the purchase of computers for the Poli Sci faculty” vs.

“I move that we support the purchase of computers for the Poli Sci faculty.”

precision60
Precision

Put Your Motion in Writing

  • It’s much easier for members to stay clear about what exactly is being moved. Otherwise you’re stuck with the secretary’s version of what you moved.
  • It keeps you focused on what your saying and prevents you from wandering in your talk.
  • May help calm nerves a bit too
ownership
Ownership
  • Knowing who owns something helps understand what can be done with that thing. In general, we need to get permission of the owner of an object before using that object.
  • Once the chair reads the motion, and it becomes the group’s, the original mover can no longer change the wording on his/her own, or withdraw the motion.
  • Only the group can give permission to do any of those things
ownership62
Ownership

For example:

  • Suppose “A” moves that Local 1839 purchase computers for the Political Science Department. It’s seconded and read by the chair. During the debate “B” asks “A” if he would add “Macbook Pro laptops” to the motion.
  • Can “A” say “sure, great idea!” and change the wording at that point?

Answer: No. We must vote on that

ownership63
Ownership

For example:

  • Suppose “A” decides it’d be better for Local 1839 to buy MiniCoopers for the Political Science Faculty and he wants to withdraw his motion on the laptops.
  • Can A pull the motion from the floor at the point?

Answer: No. We must vote on that

amendments
Amendments
  • When a main motion is pending or on the floor, members can make changes to it, that is, they can “amend” it, in order to craft a motion that reflects the will of the membership.
  • Any member can move to amend a motion
  • The original mover of the motion cannot unilaterally determine whether or not an amendment is acceptable (there are no “friendly amendments”)
amendments65
Amendments
  • Rules on Amendments:
    • A member must gain the floor to make an amendment
    • The amendment must be seconded
    • The amendment itself can be amended (that’s called a secondary amendment; secondary amendments can’t be amended however).
    • Acceptance requires a majority vote
amendments66
Amendments
  • Amendments that are out of order:
    • Those that do not relate to the motion (are not “germane” to the motion)

For example:

In the motion to buy computers for the Political Science faculty, “B” moves to amend the motion to add that Local 1839 should change it’s name to the “Political Science Department Boosters, Local 1839.”

That amendment, though admirable and intelligent, would be out of order since it does not deal with the issues of the main motion

amendments67
Amendments
  • Amendments that are out of order:
    • Those that are the same as a negative vote on the motion.

For example:

In the motion to buy computers for the Political Science faculty, “C” moves to amend the motion to add “not” in front of “buy” so that the motion now reads that “Local 1839 should not buy computers for the Political Science faculty.”

amendments68
Amendments
  • Amendments that are out of order:
    • Those that are dilatory or foolish.

For example:

In the motion to buy computers for the Political Science faculty, “D” moves to amend the motion to add “and Local 1839 officers should deliver the computers to the Political Science faculty while hopping on their left foot.”

amendments69
Amendments
  • Amendments that are out of order:
    • Those that would make the motion incoherent.

For example:

In the motion to buy computers for the Political Science faculty, “E” moves to amend the motion to add “all Political Science Department faculty except those teaching courses in the political science department.”

announcement
Announcement
  • Which side has the vote?
    • For this, depending on the kind of vote, taken, give as much information as possible.

For example:

“There are 10 votes in favor of the motion, and 6 votes against the motion; the ayes have it.”

announcement71
Announcement
  • Whether the motion passed or failed?
    • Simply state”The motion is adopted” or “The motion is defeated.”
    • This can seem silly and a waste of time, but some votes require a 2/3rds majority rather than a simple plurality.
    • To spare the membership calculating the impact of the results, it’s just easier for the chair to announce what the vote meant for the motion.
announcement72
Announcement
  • Effect of the vote
    • The chair should just summarize what the body has just decided to do with its vote.

For example:

“We will be buying MacBook Pros for the Political Science faculty.”

announcement73
Announcement
  • The next step
    • Remember, the role of the chair as presiding officer is to facilitate business; to make sure things get done
    • This step helps keep the group focused on the agenda and the order of business
    • The idea is to prevent or limit wasted time
debate example
Debate Example
  • “A” makes the motion to buy computers for the Poli. Sci. faculty.” (Step 1). The motion is seconded. Open for debate.
  • “B” offers an amendment to make it “buy MacBook Pro laptops.” The motion is seconded (Step 3a). Open for debate on the amendment.
  • “C” thinks we should get the best MacBook Pro and amends it to be “MacBook Pro with 20 inch screen.” The motion is seconded (Step 3b). Open for debate on the amendment to the amendment.
debate example75
Debate Example
  • “D” thinks we should take time to think about the purchase, and moves that we postpone the motion until the next meeting (Step 5). The motion is seconded. Open for debate.
  • “E” thinks the matter should first be studied by a committee, and moves to refer the motion to the Finance Committee (Step 4). Ruled out of order by chair

What is the immediately pending motion?

debate example76
Debate Example
  • “D” motion to postpone and we would debate and vote.
  • Then we would move to the C amendment to the amendment.
  • Then to the B amendment
  • Then to the A motion.
debate example77
Debate Example
  • But note that we can go up and down the ladder. If after the “D” motion to postpone fails, “E” still wanted to refer to committee, she could move to do so and that motion would take precedence over the “C” amendment motion.
voting procedures
Voting Procedures
  • Robert’s Rules allows for a variety of voting procedures including:

General Consent

    • Presiding officers says “If there is no objection to [whatever business is at hand]”
    • Presiding officer pauses to allow for objection
    • If hearing none, the 6 steps for handling motions can be skipped.
voting procedures79
Voting Procedures

General Consent

For example

  • At the end of the meeting, when folks are packing up, the chair could say “If there is no objection, the meeting is adjourned. [pause]. Hearing none, the meeting is adjourned”
  • If a single member objects, however, then a more formal method of voting must be adopted
voting procedures80
Voting Procedures

Voice Vote

This is the most common form of voting, used when there is near agreement, but not certain of unanimity.

For example

  • The presiding officer says “all those in favor say ‘Aye.’ [pause] Those opposed say ‘No.’”
  • After the vote is taken, the chair declares “the motion has passed” or “the motion has failed” or “the ayes have it” or “the nays have it.”
  • If a member disputes the result, she has the right to request to have the vote clarified with an uncounted “rising vote.”
voting procedures81
Voting Procedures

Rising Vote

Similar to a voice vote, except the chair asks those in each camp to stand rather than speak.

For example

  • The presiding officer says “all those in favor, please rise. [pause] All those opposed, please stand.”
  • It’s usually easier to see the results than hear them (where one faction may just yell louder)
  • To request a rising vote, a member calls for a “division of the assembly.”
voting procedures82
Voting Procedures

Hand Vote

This is the familiar raise your hand to vote. It is best confined to small assemblies where everybody can clearly see everybody else.

For example

  • The presiding officer says “all those in favor, please raise your hand. [pause] All those opposed, please raise your hands.”
voting procedures83
Voting Procedures

Ballot Vote

Sometimes (for example on elections for office or when public pressure may prevent members from expressing true preferences in public) the membership may desire a secret ballot to keep voter preferences protected

For example

  • A motion to request a ballot vote requires a majority vote for adoption and implementation
  • The presiding officer says “mark you ballots” followed by instructions as to where to deposit them or how they will be collected.
voting procedures84
Voting Procedures

Roll Call Vote

This is the opposite of a secret ballot in that members are called individually and asked to publicly state their vote for or against the motion.

For example

  • The presiding officer says “the secretary will now call the roll,” at which time the secretary begins reading the roll in alphabetical order by surname.
  • When called, members rise and say “Yes” [for], “No [against], “Present” [abstain] or “Pass.”
  • If a vote is “Pass” that person can vote before the final vote is tallied.
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