Parliamentary Procedure Resources
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Parliamentary Procedure Resources: Articles

Parliamentary Procedure Resources: Articles

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bullet How to Write and Keep Meeting Minutes
What follows is an updated and enhanced version of the Meeting Minutes article. It is updated to the 11th edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. I hope you find it helpful.

Minutes are the official record of an organization. It is crucial that they are accurate since they are the legal record of the proceedings and actions of the organization

bullet Strategies for Effective Meeting Management: Meeting Follow-Up
If you begin preparing for the next meeting about a week before that meeting, you have started planning too late. I encourage you to start your next meeting preparation during and immediately after the current meeting.

Preparing for the next meeting during the current meeting is as simple as writing notes on the agenda during the meeting. Everyone needs to work out their own shorthand, but what works for me is to use double asterisks (**). If an item is actually postponed to the next meeting, on the agenda I write the word postponed and put double asterisks next to it. If, during the discussion of an item, it sounds like this issue may need to come back on the agenda at the next meeting, I put double asterisks and a question mark next to it (**?). That tells me to review this as a possible agenda item for the next meeting.

Within 12 to 24 hours of the close of the meeting, begin preparing for the next meeting. Pull up the agenda template (which I will discuss later in this article) and first enter anything that was captured on the agenda from the last meeting. Then review the meeting minutes from the previous meeting and use them as guidance for filling in the agenda for the next meeting.

bullet Raising the Bar on Parliamentary Procedure Knowledge
Not long ago, people predicted that as our society became less formal, the need for an understanding of parliamentary procedure would decrease. In making that prediction, they did not take into account the increased emphasis on an individual’s rights, as well as minority rights, or the increase in litigation when any of our rights are perceived to be violated. Instead of the need for parliamentary procedure decreasing, that need has increased.

Among bar leaders, the need for an understanding of parliamentary procedure is also on the rise. The purpose of this article is to help meet that need. In order to help increase your understanding of parliamentary procedure, this article will examine the following areas of parliamentary procedure: quorum, agenda, processing.

bullet Control the debate, control the meeting: Answers to your parliamentary questions.
At the 2012 ABA Bar Leadership Institute, one of the workshops had some questions that were submitted in writing and that the speaker was not able to answer due to time constraints. Because the questions were regarding parliamentary procedure and meeting management, I have been asked to address them.

All four of the questions dealt with the debate portion in the processing of a motion in a board meeting. As you can guess, bar associations are not the only organizations whose boards have problems making the discussion portion of the meeting effective, efficient, and focused. Before I begin answering the questions that were asked, there are a few general rules pertaining to debate that apply to all four of them. When you adopt Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th Edition as your parliamentary authority, you have some debate rules already in place.

bullet Boardsmanship Role & Relationships
In this country, we treat being a board member much like many other fields of endeavor such as parenting and leadership. We assume that if you have the desire to be one and know how to become one, then you will know how to be a good one! Unfortunately, all around us we see examples of how this theory fails. I often meet board members who want to be good board members but don't know how or go about it in the wrong way.

This article will review the overall role of the board and then focus on a key success factor of effective board governance: the board/staff relationship.

bullet Strategies for Effective Meeting Management: Facilitating Communication
The basis of effective leadership in a democratic decision making process is that the leader facilitates the discussion. Effective leaders facilitate the discussion; ineffective leaders dominate the discussion and take control of the direction of the discussion. This article will cover the leader facilitating discussion during a meeting which includes facilitate, don’t dictate; keep the discussion focused; focus on the will of the attendees; and religiously follow speaking rules.

Facilitate, don't dictate! The difference between a leader who facilitates a meeting and one who dictates a meeting is enormous. The leader who facilitates is focused on the meeting process and helping the group focus on the outcome that the group believes is best. A leader who dictates usually believes that he or she knows more than the group does. That type of leader typically begins the meeting with the outcome in mind that the leader believes is best and focuses the entire meeting on getting the group to that outcome.

bullet Strategies for Effective Meeting Management: Effective Chairing of the Meeting
The average business person spends anywhere from 3 hours to 25% of the work week in meetings. My experience as a professional parliamentarian indicates whether it is the local city council meeting, school board meeting, or board meeting of a nonprofit organization, the number one complaint I hear is that meetings are too long. Every one of us could use some assistance in meeting management. 

It is for this reason I decided to write this series of articles. Each article will cover a different strategy for effective meeting management: effective chairing of the meeting, facilitating discussion, and meeting follow-up. This article will cover the effective chairing of the meeting, which includes advanced preparation, focus on agenda, using all six steps of processing a motion, and, the most difficult, remaining impartial.

bullet Agenda and Script Lead to Better Meeting Minutes
Unless you have had a tremendous amount of practice in writing minutes of a meeting, you most likely find minutes writing an arduous task that is excruciatingly painful.  There are two documents that can make the task of minutes writing much easier and more accurate.  Those two documents are directly interrelated to the minutes.  They are the agenda and the meeting script.

The preparation process should proceed like this:  The agenda is prepared.  The meeting script is written with the headings from the agenda guiding what should be in the script and done in the meeting.  The agenda and the script, as well as the actual meeting itself, should make the writing of the minutes much easier and more accurate.

bullet The New Version of Robert's and Why You Should Care
The 11th edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised was released at the 2011 National Association of Parliamentarian’s Convention on September 23. If the bylaws of an organization state that the organization’s parliamentary authority is “the current edition of” Robert’s, then the 11th edition is now that organization’s parliamentary authority. It is also the parliamentary authority for organizations whose bylaws establish Robert’s Rules of Order, Robert’s Rules of Order Revised, and Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised. Since approximately 95% of the organizations in the U.S. prescribe Robert’s as their parliamentary authority, the 11th edition is most likely the parliamentary authority for all organizations you are involved in.

In this article, I am going to highlight some of the major changes that are most likely to have an impact on organizations. The areas I will cover are: rules for small boards and committees, electronic meetings, notice sent electronically, Point of Information, offering a series of amendments in one motion, and the minutes of the meeting. There are other areas of major change, such as discipline and resolving election disputes that I will not be covering in this article, but can be found in the list of changes found on the Robert’s Rules Association website (see information at end of article).
bullet The Presiding Officer's Impact on Closure to Controversial Decisions
For years, when training in presiding skills I have made a statement, followed by the comment that someday I am going to prove that statement scientifically, and then write an article supporting it. I still have not found a method to do the research, but have decided that the time has come to write the article. The statement is that, particularly in the case of a highly controversial motion, when the presiding officer does a thorough job of Steps 3, 5, and 6 of processing a motion [Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th edition (RONR), pp. 31-51], the assembly is much more likely to accept the outcome of the vote and move on to the next issue. While I don’t have proof, I do have empirical evidence to support the statement, based upon years of observation as a professional parliamentarian. I will support the statement in this article by reviewing the six steps of processing a motion, and looking closely at Steps 3, 5, and 6, including an examination of the effect of those three steps on the assembly’s response to the vote....
bullet Process For Disagreement With The Chair: Part One
In parliamentary procedure the process for disagreeing with the chair involves two motions, Point of Order, and Appeal from the Decision of the Chair. It is the process of using one or both of these motions that keep the democratic process of decisions by the people alive and well. It also keeps the chair humble! Understanding the use of these two motions will assist you in appropriately handling a disagreement you might have with the ruling of the chair. In this newsletter, I am going to focus on the first of these two motions Point of Order. In my next newsletter, I will follow up with the second of these two motions: Appeal from the Decision of the Chair.
bullet Process For Disagreement With The Chair: Part Two
In my last article, I focused on the first of these two motions Point of Order. In this article, I will follow up with the second of these two motions: Appeal from the Decision of the Chair. Appeal from the Decision of the Chair, also referred to as Appeal, is a motion that takes a decision regarding parliamentary procedure out of the hands of the chair and places the final decision in the hands of the assembly, the members. It is one of my personal favorites of all of the motions because it is a great reminder that parliamentary procedure is all about the democratic process. Just like Point of Order, Appeal from the Decision of the Chair is an Incidental Motion that may be offered at any time when it is needed. It can be either a secondary motion (offered while a main motion is pending) or a main motion (made when no other motion is pending). It also has some special rules ...
bullet Reconsider & Rescind Part 1
It is not unusual for a group to change its mind – circumstances change, information changes, the politics of the situation causes a change. Robert’s gives us several ways to change our minds. But they are so complicated that people frequently get them mixed up and misuse them. At a very high level, let’s look at how a group of people can change their minds, either right away, or at a later date. 
bullet Reconsider & Rescind Part 2
If you are interested in more complete information on these motions as well as a table that compares these motions, please go to the article Reconsider & Rescind Part 2. There you will find this article followed by a much more detailed analysis of these motions.
bullet Guerrilla Guide Tactics for All Meetings Part 1
In my over thirty years of experience in meetings (both meetings using parliamentary procedure and not using parliamentary procedure, such as meetings in businesses) I have learned many tactics that can make the meeting more effective and efficient! Many of these tactics are explained in greater detail in my book The Guerrilla Guide to Robert’s Rule. This article is a summary of the tactics that can be useful in all of the meetings you attend. This is the first part of a multi-part article.
bullet Guerrilla Guide Tactics for All Meetings Part 2
In part one of this series I covered the following subjects: Share Ownership of the Meeting, Purpose of Meeting Clear to All, No Agenda, No Meeting. In this part of the series I will cover: Role of the Meeting Chairman, The Importance of a Second, Focus Attention on One Issue at a Time
bullet Guerrilla Guide Tactics for All Meetings Part 3
In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series I covered the following subjects: Share Ownership of the Meeting, Purpose of Meeting Clear to All, No Agenda - No Meeting, Role of the Meeting Chairman, The Importance of a Second, Focus Attention on One Issue at a Time. In this part of the series I will cover: Preparing for the Contentious Meeting, Focused Issue Discussion, Ownership of the Idea.
bullet Guerrilla Guide Tactics for All Meetings Part 4
This part will focus on the following subjects: Speaking Rules Equal Knowledge of the Rules of the Group Impartiality of the Chair.
Parliamentary Procedure: Fair, Logical and Efficient
If you are ever in a meeting and canīt remember the parliamentary rule that applies, here is the test to give as you try to figure out what to do. Ask yourself three questions:
  1. What is the fairest thing to do in this situation? Be sure to consider what is fairest to all, not just to you.
  2. What is the most logical answer to this problem? This one is hard, because most of us donīt have a mind that is as logical as Robertīs.
  3. What is the most efficient way of doing this? If you can get there in two steps, donīt take three!
Want to Be a Better Board Member?
In this country we treat being a board member much like many other fields of endeavor such as parenting and leadership. We assume that if you have the desire to be one and we know how to become one, then we will know how to be a good one! Unfortunately, all around us we see examples of how this theory fails. Seldom have I ever met or worked with a board member who didn't really care about the organization and want to be a good board member. Often I have met board members who wanted to be a good board member but didn't know how or went about it in the wrong way. In this article we will review an understanding of board governance, some board basics and some board training subjects to pursue.
Improve Your Business Presentation Skills
This article is designed to help you improve your business presentation skills by looking at the presentation from the point of view of the purpose, the preparation, the organization, the support and the delivery. Give the perfect presentation!
Parliamentary Procedure
This article examines the agenda, tools that are in place to assist with the running of the meeting, processing a motion and the script of a motion.
Meetings Without Migraines!
Four articles on how to effectively plan, run, and follow-up on a meeting to maximize time, achieve goals, and develop participant enthusiasm.
Characteristics of Motions
Basic characteristics of motions, their purpose and the order of precedence.
There are Professional Parliamentarians!?!
When I tell people that I am a professional parliamentarian, they look at me like they think I just told them I have some strange, incurable disease. After I assure them that it is not a disease, I then proceed to explain the profession. Just in case you did not know there are such creatures as professional parliamentarians out there, let me explain my profession to you.
What Professional Parliamentarians Can Do For You!
A parliamentarian assists the organization before, during, and after meetings. A parliamentarian also may be of assistance to the organization throughout the entire year, not just at convention time. A parliamentarian can assist the organization in any of the following ways ...
Who is Henry M. Robert and Why is He the Authority?
Henry did not set out to be the leading authority in parliamentary procedure. He simply envisioned a need for a set of rules that were consistently followed everywhere. Therefore, when people moved to a new community, they would be able to use the same set of rules used in the previous community.

He wrote a pamphlet which he shared with his friends. The response was encouraging. He then proceeded to write a book of his rules. He had trouble getting a publisher to print them. There were 4,000 copies of the first book printed with the idea that they would last a couple of years and then he would have enough comments for a revision. Instead, the copies sold out in a few months. That was the beginning of what is today the most recognized authority on parliamentary procedure.
Parliamentary Procedure Basics
The following are the foundational concepts upon which parliamentary procedure is based ...
Script of a Main Motion
Ever wonder how in the world presiding officers remember every step in the motion making process? While it's certainly the case that many presiding officers have a complete understanding of parliamentary procedure and know exactly what to say in almost every circumstance, a lot of presiding officers rely on what some might call "cheat sheets" but in the parliamentary world are called "scripts." That's right – they read from a prepared document which tells them exactly what they need to say and do for any particular motion. Here is a script of what you should say in processing a main motion. It is meant to make you more comfortable in a meeting. Take it to meetings with you that you chair so you are prepared to say it correctly!
Effective Meeting Tips
Try requiring a second on an idea before the group spends time discussing it! In a convention or board meeting, when a motion is made, it must be seconded before it is discussed.
Maximize Your Board's Potential
Is your board lost in the day-to-day operations of the organization? If so, join the crowd! Probably the greatest shortcoming of boards is the focus on the "How are we going to get this done?" instead of the "Where do we want the organization to be in five years?" The focus on the day-to-day operations is an easy trap to get caught in. It is much easier to discuss what the new stationary should look like than how is the organization going to be prepared for the monumental changes that will occur in the next five years.
Build A Dynamic Team
Most management teams have realized by now that you can not walk into a company, turn on a switch and have teams! But, if that is not the way to do it, what is? I offer to you that training is a major contributor to the success of conversion to a team environment.
The Meaning of Votes
I am frequently asked to explain the meaning of various votes. Here are the definitions ...
Meeting Minutes
Minutes are the official record of an organization. It is crucial that they are accurate since they are the legal record of the proceedings and actions of the organization ...
bullet Lessons Learned from Serving as Interim
In August, 2004, the Executive Committee of the Rockford Regional Chamber of Commerce asked me to serve as Interim President. After I accepted the responsibility, I realized I didnīt know how to be an interim! I spent a significant amount of time giving serious thought to the role of an interim president and how that role differs from the role of the president. My years of study of governance issues told me there was a huge difference and now I was challenged to put that concept into practice. In my last presidentīs message I wanted to share with you some of the lessons I learned.

If you have a comment or suggestion, I'd love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me with your questions or ideas for additional content you would like to see in this section.

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