Robert's Rules for Conducting Business - dummies

Robert’s Rules for Conducting Business

By C. Alan Jennings, PRP, PRP

Everything you do in meetings revolves around using Robert’s Rules to get your business taken care of so that, ultimately, you can go home. And the whole purpose of parliamentary procedure is to facilitate the conduct of business in your meeting so that the deliberate will of the majority is achieved while still protecting members’ rights.

To conduct business, your group needs to follow this format:

  • Get people to the meeting by notifying them that it’s happening: The first requirement for any meeting is members — enough members so that the decided-upon action is in all likelihood representative of the wishes of the entire group. Robert’s Rules calls that minimum number a quorum. Part and parcel to achieving a quorum is making sure that all the members know about the meeting, so you need to send a meeting notice to your members.

  • Have people to run the meeting: In addition to having a room full of members, your meeting needs a minimum of two people to officiate. A presiding officer and a recording secretary are essential to holding a meeting and creating a record of what was done. If you don’t already have officers, or if your regular officers can’t make it to the meeting, you need to know how to select temporary replacements.

  • Set an agenda: To conduct a productive and efficient meeting, you need a plan, or agenda — a schedule of what’s going to be discussed and when.

  • Take up business: If a meeting were a meal, this would be where the waiter shows up with your order! After an appetizer of opening ceremonies and the soup and salad of reports, you get to the main course of making your decisions by making motions and voting, followed by adjournment (always a great dessert!).

    • Make motions: Nothing can get done until somebody has an idea and shares it with the group. You do this by making motions.

    • Discuss and debate: Nobody’s idea is perfect. Some members may want to improve it, and some may want to just forget about it. The way to accomplish any or all of these aims is through debating motions, making amendments, and voting.

    • Adjourn: Probably the best part of any meeting is when the chair declares the meeting adjourned. If you’ve had a good meeting, then you’re glad you were a part of it, and you feel a great sense of accomplishment. If you’ve had a bad meeting, then you’re probably even happier it’s over!