2Conducting an Effective Chapter Meeting Using Robert’s Rules to Maintain Order and Get Stuff Done
3You Know Your Meetings Are Out of Control When... Your sergeant-at-arms requests hazard pay...Roll call takes an hour-and-a-half...You have so much old business, you never get to new business..The president beats himself into unconsciousness with his gavel...
4Today’s GoalsLearn how to get the most out of your meetings in as efficient a manner as is possibleUnderstand how ideas should flow into (and out of) your meetingsGet the basics of Robert’s Rules to facilitate the process
5Agenda Introduction Purpose of a Chapter Meeting Committees: The Fast Way to a Faster MeetingSample Meeting AgendaIntroduction to Robert’s RulesTypes of MotionsRank of MotionsVoting ProceduresRandom RulesClosing and Q&A
6Purpose of a Chapter Meeting What isn’t the purpose of a meeting?Determining who can yell the loudest...Quoting the CONSTITUTION and BY-LAWS based on what you sort of remember them saying...Arguing over which sorority would be the best dates for formal.
7Purpose of a Chapter Meeting Get the work of the Chapter done:Make important decisionsIndicate support for committee recommendations (or not)Provide a forum for members to discuss:ConcernsSerious issuesHandle those decisions which, by our rules, must be made in the Chapter Hall:Officer electionsSuspensionsExpulsions
8How Do We Make Our Meetings Effective? Proper flow of ideas into and out of each meetingStructured agenda based on the flowUse of Robert’s Rules to enforce the agenda
9The Thing Is... Chapter meetings are where decisions are made... But chapter meetings don’t have to be the place where the majority of the debate and discussion happen. How?One word: Committees.
10The Value of Committees New ideas should go to the relevant committee whenever possibleAllows the committee to review and make recommendationsMeans that an idea brought up for a vote is not ‘new’ to most peopleProper idea flow out of committees minimizes debate in the chapter hall...
11Idea Flow Individual Committee Admin Executive Chapter 3-5 Men By the time the idea reachesthe chapter,20+ people will have seen it.Admin7-8 MenExecutive8 MenThis means debate and discussion will be minimal.ChapterEverybody
12Create and use a detailed agenda... So we have our ideas, but...How do we get through them in a meeting without taking forever?Answer:Create and use a detailed agenda...
13The Agenda Effective meetings have agendas, and stick to them The chapter president should prepare the agenda following the exec meetingPrinted copies help keep everyone focused and on track
14Sample Agenda Opening Ceremonies (Formal) Roll call Introduction of visiting members/guestsReading and approval of minutesOfficer reportsCommittee reports (regular and special)Old/unfinished businessNew business (referrals to committee)Proposal for membershipReport of the chapter advisorSuggestions for the good of the orderClosing Ceremonies (Formal)
15How do we stick to them, and keep the meeting orderly? Options: Agendas are great, but...How do we stick to them, and keep the meeting orderly?Options:Use of extreme levels of force (baseball bat)Hold meetings while people are sleeping (quorum issues)Use Robert’s Rules
16Robert’s Rules First thing’s first: Who the heck is Robert? Henry Robert, an engineer, crafted a small book of rules to bring simplified parliamentary procedure to non-legislative organizations in 1876Essentially unchanged ever sinceDesigned to help, not hinder, decision makingAccording to Robert, “The assembly meets to transact business, not to have members exploit their knowledge of parliamentary law.”
17The Basic RulesThe rights of the organization supersede the rights of individual membersAll members and their rights are equalA quorum must be present to do businessThe majority rulesSilence is consentTwo-thirds vote rule
18The Basic Rules Debatable motions must receive full debate Once a question has been decided, it is out of order to bring it up againPersonal remarks in a debate are always out of orderThe presiding officer’s role should be respected
19The Presiding Officer Be on time and start on time Be organized and preparedTake control of the floorBe impartialBe preciseBe focusedThe chapter president takes the role of the chairman, or presiding officer. It is his job to direct the meeting and make sure that meetings run smoothly. Some times to help in that role...Be on time and start on time -- arrive at the chapter hall a little early, make sure it is set up and that the temperature and lighting are comfortableBe organized and prepared -- have an agenda prepared before the meeting with copies to distribute, know the bylaws and other relevant rules so that you can respond appropriately to motions from the floorTake control -- you are the chair, recognized one person at a time, using their name -- allow them to speak and no one else to speak -- if some tries to speak out of turn, call the meeting to order and remind them of the rules, but do so without pounding your gavel -- if people continue to speak out of turn, simply cease business or instruct people firmly to quiet down, but don’t yellBe impartial -- call on members wishing to speak in an impartial manner, always give people on both side of the issue a chance to speak, even calling on people from alternate sides of the matterBe precise -- you should always restate the motion BEFORE taking a vote, then announce the results of the vote by interpreting the action taken -- in other words, if the motion is to have a mixer with the Tri-Delts -- “The question is, shall we have a mixer with the Tri-Delts? Those in favor will say aye. Those opposed nay. In the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it, and we shall have a mixer with Tri-Delt.”Be focused -- and keep the chapter focused. Make sure people do not engage in irrelevant discussion. You have the right to restate the question and instruct the speaker to “confine his remarks to the pending question.”
20Expediting Business Use general consent Refer to a committee or entertain a motion to do soAssist in phrasing of a motionRestate the motion periodicallyAllow motions to be withdrawnStop dilatory tacticsThere are a number of parliamentary ‘tricks’ that can be used to speed up a meeting...Use ‘general consent’ whenever possible. Remember, voting takes time, sometimes lots of time. When business is routine or it is clear that the chapter consents to the motion, a formal vote may be skipped. Simply state “If there is no objection, then we shall proceed ...” Pause to see if anyone objects. If ONE person objects, though, you must stop and take a formal vote.Remember that ideas are to flow through committees? Use them and encourage the chapter to do so as well. Depending on your bylaws, the chair may have the ability to refer a motion to committee. If not, you can ask for a motion to send a pending matter to a committee (this requires a second and a vote, but once you chapter is in the habit of using committees, it will be simple.)If someone takes the floor and talks without making a motion (i.e, they start to ramble), you may tactfully interrupt and say, “Is it your intention to make a motion that we....”Restate the motion to help keep people focused.Allow people to withdraw poorly worded or inappropriate motions via general consent -- no second is needed and the motion does not go into the minutes.Finally, don’t allow so-called dilatory tactics -- a mis-use of procedure -- to delay your meeting. These include things like making silly motions, always appealing the decision of the chair, or always making points of order. Feel free to rule these people out of order...
21Types of Motions Main Secondary Subsidiary - Their purpose is to change or affect how a main motion is handled, and is voted on before a main motion.Privileged - Their purpose is to bring up items that are urgent about special or important matters unrelated to pending business.Incidental - Their purpose is to provide a means of questioning procedure concerning other motions and must be considered before the other motion.Now let’s turn to these ‘motions’ we’ve been talking about. There are several main types, each of which we will look at...Main motion -- proposal that the group take a certain action. Main motions are the ones that allow the chapter to do its work, spend money, etc. When people bring up a new issue and say “I move that we....” -- that’s a main motion.Secondary motions are motions that can be made while a main motion is on the floor -- that is, it is being discussed. These are divided into three categories - subsidiary, privileged, and incidental.Subsidiary motions relate to the motion on the floor and can be used to change it, send it to a committee, etc. These types of motions have varying ranks which define in what order they are considered.Privileged motions are ‘emergency’ motions -- like one to recess the meeting or adjourn. They are of high rank and must be handled before other matters.Incidental motions are procedural -- they deal with process, such as enforcing proper procedure, verifying votes, correcting errors -- they MUST be decided immediately before business can resume.
22Making and Acting on a Motion A member requests the floorThe floor is assignedThe motion is made and secondedThe Chair states the motionDebate is heldThe Chair puts the motion to a voteThe Chair announces the resultsNow that we’ve seen the types of motions that exist, at least at a high level, let’s talk about the process for MAKING a motion...First, a member must request the floor -- he may address the cahir or raise his hand.The chair then RECOGNIZES the speaker and ‘assigns’ the floor to him.At this point, the speaker states his motion, “I move that we...” The motion must then be seconded by another member (the Chair may ask, “is there a second?”). Note thats motions by a committee do NOT need a second.The Chair will then state the motion to make sure everyone understands the debate and then asks “Is there any discussion?”Debate will be held for as long as is needed, i.e., until everyone who wants to speak has spoken or someone calls for the question (makes a motion to vote, but more on that later). Reminder: the chair controls the debate and should recognize each person in turn.The motion is then put to a vote. “The question is shall we.... Those in favor will please say aye. Those opposed nay. In the opinion of the chair the nays have it and we shall NOT...” Essentially the Chair explains the outcome to the members.
23Important Points Main Motions... Other Points... Require a second (except for committees)Must be debated.Can be amendedRequire a majority vote (in most cases)Other Points...The chair can require long motions be submitted in writingThe maker of a motion has the first right to speak on it during a debateA member can vote against his own motion but cannot speak against it
24Important Points Other points continued… A member can vote against his own motion but cannot speak against it.A member can modify his own motion before it is stated by the Chair. He can also offer an amendment after his motion has been stated by the Chair.A member can withdrawal his motion up to the time it has been stated by the Chair, and after that he must have permission of the group.
25Out of Order Always rule as “out of order” motions that... conflict with the law or the bylaws.repeat the same question on the same day.conflict with an already adopted motion.appear dilatory, rude, or frivolous.
26Subsidiary Motions and “Rank” Previous Question(call for the vote)Limit DebatePostponeto a specific timeCommitor ReferEarlier I mentioned ‘subisidary’ motions -- those that relate to the motion on the floor. I also mentioned that these motions have an order of precedence, called rank, in which they must be considered... Let’s introduce (quickly) the types of subsidiary motions and their rank.From lowest to highest, we have...-The Main Motion -- “I move that we...”-The next higher rank is a motion to “amend” the main motion. Remember that passing an amendment does NOT pass the motion...but more on that later.-Next is a motion to ‘commit’ or ‘refer’ -- this motion, if passed, sends a matter to committee for review and consideration. Motions may be sent to standing committees or to a new special purpose committee created by this motion.-Next is a motion to postpone discussion for a definitive period of time. This would be used, for example, if a guest speaker arrived early and the assembly wanted to stop discussing business to allow him to speak.So far, all of these motions require simply a majority as they are not truly taking away the rights of any member (i.e., the postponement is for a limited time). The two highest ranking motions, however, do take away rights and so require a two-thirds vote...-A motion to limit debate does just that...it may be a per person motion “I move that we limit discussion to 2 minutes per person...” or a total time limit “I move that we limit debate until 9:15”. Either way, it requires a second and a 2/3 vote to pass.-Finally we have the “previous question” motion -- “I move the previous question...” -- which is a call for a vote. Some important points here -- this motion does NOT require a second, it is NOT debatable, it can be applied to any pending question (an amendment, a motion to refer, the main motion, etc.), but CANNOT just be shouted out. This motion is OUT OF ORDER if made while someone else has the floor --- the mover must be recognized by the chair. It requires a two-thirds vote. Note that this motion passing then REQUIRES a vote on the matter at hand.Two other items...-First, because of the way that rank works...if someone makes a motion to limit debate while an amendment is being discussed, that motion must be addressed first because it outranks the motion to amend and so on.-Second, you will notice something missing -- the motion to “lay on the table” or to “postpone indefinitely.” That’s because such a motion is OUT OF ORDER when it is used to kill a motion. Period. Motions should be defeated or withdrawn, not killed.AmendA Main Motion
27Subsidiary Motions Two other motions Postpone indefinitely – Lowest rankingCan kill a motion, but is used to test the strength of the motion.Lay on the table – Highest rankingShould be used as a courtesy to set aside a question for a period of time.If it’s used kill or avoid a motion, it is out of order.
28Amending a Motion Amendments can: Amendments must relate to the motion Add words or phrases (or delete them)Replace words or phrasesAmendments must relate to the motionProcess:Amendment is made and secondedDebate is heldQuestion is put to a voteRemember:Multiple motions may be on the floor but only one question.passage of an amendment does not pass the underlying motionNow things get tricky... A motion to “amend” an existing motion is the most common type of motion in most organizations... but it can be the most confusing...
29Amending an Amendment NO Possible to amend an amendment Same process for approving the amendmentApproval of the amendment to the amendment changes the amendment but does not pass the amendment or the underlying motionConfused yet?Can you amend an amendment to an amendment?To further complicate things...NO
30Privileged MotionsQuestion of privilege - Privileged motions do not relate to the matter at hand, but are of a general nature -- they are not debatable and require immediate consideration.Recess - A motion to recess is to temporarily suspend the meeting. This motion requires a second, may be debated/amended only as to duration, and passes with a simple majority vote.Adjourn - A motion to adjourn must be seconded, cannot be debated, cannot be made while someone else has the floor, and passes with a simple majority vote.Privileged motions do not relate to the matter at hand, but are of a general nature -- they are not debatable and require immediate consideration. These include...A question of privilege may interupt a speaker. It is used for such matters as “we cannot hear the speaker” or “the speaker has misstated my remarks.” The chair decides the matter and, once he has done so, the floor returns to the previously recognized speaker. These motions are used only when the comfort, welfare, or reputation of the organization or individual are at stake.A motion to recess is to temporarily suspend the meeting. This motion requires a second, may be debated/amended only as to duration, and passes with a simple majority vote.A motion to adjourn must be seconded, cannot be debated, cannot be made while someone else has the floor, and passes with a simple majority vote.
31Incidental MotionsPoint of Order - used when one believes the chair is making an error relative to the rules. The Chair can consider the point and, if he agrees, go along with it. No vote is required.Appeal - the decision of the Chair on such matters is appealable by the body of the group -- such an APPEAL requires only a simple majority to pass.Point of Inquiry - used to ask the Chair (or the parliamentarian) about proper procedure for a pending matter. To dispose of this motion, the answer is provided.Division - used to request a verification of a voice vote. It is not debatable and requires no discussion. One member of the group may demand a verification, at which point the chair requests a roll call vote or show of hands.Incidental motions relate to procedure and not to the question on the floor. These motions must be handled as they are raised and are generally undebatable.They include:A point of order -- is used when one believes the chair is making an error relative to the rules. The Chair can consider the point and, if he agrees, go along with it. No vote is required.Of course, the decision of the Chair on such matters is appealable by the body of the group -- such an APPEAL requires only a simple majority to pass.The “point of inquiry” is used to ask the Chair (or the parliamentarian) about proper procedure for a pending matter. To dispose of this motion, the answer is provided.Finally the motion to divide, or “division”, is used to request a verification of a voice vote. It is not debatable and requires no discussion. One member of the group may demand a verification, at which point the chair requests a roll call vote or show of hands.
32Allow a group to change its mind Restorative MotionAllow a group to change its mindRescindOut of order if an action has happened due to a vote.Needs to be seconded.2/3 to pass unless communicated in the previous meeting.ReconsiderOnly a person who voted in the majority can make the motion.It has a time limit of the same daypp. 90 – 91.
33VotingTypes of votingMajoritySuper majorityPluralityp. 99
34Voting Methods of Voting Voice vote. Rising Vote – Show of hands. Ballot vote.General Consent.Proxy voteMail voteElectronic VoteWhat if there is a tie? What action should the chair take?
35Electronic Meetings Not based on Robert’s Rules. Your Bylaws must state electronic meetings/voting can occur.Nobody may speak twice until all have been given a chance to debate.
36VotingVirtually every state has ruled that meetings are not valid.Robert’s Rules of Order states that simultaneous deliberation is essential to holding an effective meeting.A lot of experts do not suggest using for meetings or voting.
37Chat RoomsMake sure you have a way to confirm those in the chat room are really them.Do not use for sensitive materials.Good for small informational meetings.
38ConclusionsEffective chapter meetings are short, efficient, and get things done without debate or controversy.The use of committees, a detailed agenda, and Robert’s Rules can help make your meetings more effective.No meeting will ever run completely by the book, but the closer you get, the better off you’ll be.
39Thanks for your attention! Q & AThanks for your attention!