Conducting an Effective Chapter Meeting Using Robert’s Rules toMaintain Orderand Get Stuff Done
You 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...
Today’s Goals • Learn how to get the most out of your meetings in as efficient a manner as is possible • Understand how ideas should flow into (and out of) your meetings • Get the basics of Robert’s Rules to facilitate the process
Agenda • Introduction • Purpose of a Chapter Meeting • Committees: The Fast Way to a Faster Meeting • Sample Meeting Agenda • Introduction to Robert’s Rules • Types of Motions • Rank of Motions • Voting Procedures • Random Rules • Closing and Q&A
Purpose 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.
Purpose of a Chapter Meeting Get the work of the Chapter done: • Make important decisions • Indicate support for committee recommendations (or not) Provide a forum for members to discuss: • Concerns • Serious issues Handle those decisions which, by our rules, must be made in the Chapter Hall: • Officer elections • Suspensions • Expulsions
How Do We Make Our Meetings Effective? • Proper flow of ideas into and out of each meeting • Structured agenda based on the flow • Use of Robert’s Rules to enforce the agenda
The 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.
The Value of Committees • New ideas should go to the relevant committee whenever possible • Allows the committee to review and make recommendations • Means that an idea brought up for a vote is not ‘new’ to most people • Proper idea flow out of committees minimizes debate in the chapter hall...
Individual Committee 3-5 Men By the time the idea reaches the chapter, 20+ people will have seen it. Admin 7-8 Men Executive 8 Men Chapter Everybody Idea Flow This means debate and discussion will be minimal.
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...
The Agenda • Effective meetings have agendas, and stick to them • The chapter president should prepare the agenda following the exec meeting • Printed copies help keep everyone focused and on track
Sample Agenda • Opening Ceremonies (Formal) • Roll call • Introduction of visiting members/guests • Reading and approval of minutes • Officer reports • Committee reports (regular and special) • Old/unfinished business • New business (referrals to committee) • Proposal for membership • Report of the chapter advisor • Suggestions for the good of the order • Closing Ceremonies (Formal)
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
Robert’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 1876 • Essentially unchanged ever since Designed to help, not hinder, decision making According to Robert, “The assembly meets to transact business, not to have members exploit their knowledge of parliamentary law.”
The Basic Rules • The rights of the organization supersede the rights of individual members • All members and their rights are equal • A quorum must be present to do business • The majority rules • Silence is consent • Two-thirds vote rule
The Basic Rules • Debatable motions must receive full debate • Once a question has been decided, it is out of order to bring it up again • Personal remarks in a debate are always out of order • The presiding officer’s role should be respected
The Presiding Officer • Be on time and start on time • Be organized and prepared • Take control of the floor • Be impartial • Be precise • Be focused
Expediting Business • Use general consent • Refer to a committee or entertain a motion to do so • Assist in phrasing of a motion • Restate the motion periodically • Allow motions to be withdrawn • Stop dilatory tactics
Types 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.
Making and Acting on a Motion • A member requests the floor • The floor is assigned • The motion is made and seconded • The Chair states the motion • Debate is held • The Chair puts the motion to a vote • The Chair announces the results
Important Points Main Motions... • Require a second (except for committees) • Must be debated. • Can be amended • Require a majority vote (in most cases) Other Points... • The chair can require long motions be submitted in writing • The maker of a motion has the first right to speak on it during a debate • A member can vote against his own motion but cannot speak against it
Important 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.
Out 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.
Previous Question (call for the vote) Limit Debate Postpone to a specific time Commit or Refer Amend A Main Motion Subsidiary Motions and “Rank”
Subsidiary Motions Two other motions • Postpone indefinitely – Lowest ranking • Can kill a motion, but is used to test the strength of the motion. • Lay on the table – Highest ranking • Should 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.
Amending a Motion Amendments can: • Add words or phrases (or delete them) • Replace words or phrases Amendments must relate to the motion Process: • Amendment is made and seconded • Debate is held • Question is put to a vote Remember: • Multiple motions may be on the floor but only one question. • passage of an amendment does not pass the underlying motion
Amending an Amendment • Possible to amend an amendment • Same process for approving the amendment • Approval of the amendment to the amendment changes the amendment but does not pass the amendment or the underlying motion • Confused yet? • Can you amend an amendment to an amendment? NO
Privileged Motions • Question 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.
Incidental Motions • Point 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.
Restorative Motion Allow a group to change its mind Rescind • Out 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. Reconsider • Only a person who voted in the majority can make the motion. • It has a time limit of the same day
Voting Types of voting • Majority • Super majority • Plurality
Voting Methods of Voting • Voice vote. • Rising Vote – Show of hands. • Ballot vote. • General Consent. • Proxy vote • Mail vote • Electronic Vote What if there is a tie? What action should the chair take?
Electronic 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.
Email Voting • Virtually every state has ruled that email 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 email for meetings or voting.
Chat Rooms • Make 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.
Conclusions • Effective 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.
Q & A Thanks for your attention!