If you happen to be a board director, don’t worry if you feel anxious about making motions — over 70% of the population has a fear of public speaking. In board meetings, this problem intensifies because of uncertainty about how to make motions. This article aims to clarify this process and explore the following aspects of motions in board meetings:

  1. What is a board motion?
  2. Who can make motions?
  3. How do you make board meeting motions?
  4. Advice on how to say motion to approve agenda, adopt a resolution, and appoint a committee.
  5. Motion-making best practices.

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What is a motion in a meeting?

A motion is a move to propose a decision, a vote, or a business item. It brings order and clarity to the parliamentary procedure. Here are the types of motions commonly used in corporate and nonprofit boards.

Primary motionIntroduce a business item or action on a business item
SecondSupport the primary motion
AmendModify the primary motion
AdjournConclude a meeting

Who can make a motion at a board meeting?

All voting board members, including the board chair, can make board motions. The board chair coordinates the motion process and has the following responsibilities:

  • Make motions
  • Allow board members to make motions
  • Restate motions
  • Initiate discussions and votes
  • Approve or reject motions

How to make a motion in a board meeting?

Prepare a motion

A few simple steps will help you prepare for making a motion:

  • Bring supporting documentation. Prepare notes, reports, and applicable materials.
  • Formulate your statement. Recall what you need to say. You may read from notes to boost your confidence.

Obtain the floor

A member must first receive recognition from the chair to speak (obtain the floor):

  1. Raise your hand
  2. Get approval. The chair may say: “I recognize [speaker’s name].”

Make a motion

Follow these steps to make a motion:

  1. State your proposal. Start your speech with: “I move that/to…”
  2. Yield the floor. Once you finish your statement, say: “I yield the floor” to let everyone move forward.
  3. Seek motion approval. Other members must make secondary motions to approve the motion of the speaker. They say: “I second the motion.” 

Participate in a discussion

The discussion begins once the motion is seconded. Here are the steps:

  1. Motion restatement. The board chair restates your motion for better clarity and invites board members for discussion. The chair may ask: “Is there any discussion?”
  2. Discussion. Board members raise their hands to obtain recognition before speaking. 

Call for a vote

Voting on a motion begins once the discussion ends. Here are the steps:

  1. End of discussion. The chair says: “Is there any further discussion?” If no one responds, the chair moves forward.
  2. Voting. The chair restates the motion and instructs board members on the voting procedure.
Start a meeting in an advanced board portal now. Store documents, schedule meetings, share agendas, record motions in meeting minutes, register votes, and manage follow-up discussions.

Example of a board motion in a meeting

Let’s explore how to move agenda items at a sample board meeting with Board Chair, Member A, Member B, and Member C.

Prepare a motionMember A takes their notes and sips a glass of water.
Obtain the floorMember A raises their hand to ask
Board Chair for recognition.
Board Chair says: “The Chair recognizes Member A.”
Make a motionMember A says: “I move that we allocate $15,000 to the security budget for the next quarter, including $7,500 in cybersecurity software and $7,500 in physical surveillance systems. I yield the floor.”
Member B and Member C say: “I second the motion.”
Initiate discussionBoard Chair says: “The motion to allocate $15,000 to the security budget for the next quarter is seconded. Is there any discussion?”
Member A – C keep silent.
Call for a voteBoard Chair says: “We will now vote on the motion to allocate $15,000 to the security budget for the next quarter, including $7,500 in cybersecurity software and $7,500 in physical surveillance systems. Please raise your hand to vote for or keep your hand down to vote against.”

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How to approve a motion in a board meeting?

The following motion approval procedure ensures the decisions during board meetings are formally executed and legally enforceable.

StepProcedure on how to carry a motion
VotingMembers vote for or against according to the adopted voting procedure:
– Raising hands
– Standing
– Voicing “Aye” for and “Nay” against
– Circulating voting ballots
– Using board portals
Counting the resultsA motion on business items, amendments, or adjournment requires a majority vote (51% of the votes).
Announcement of resultsThe board chair officially announces the results and declares motion approval (or rejection).

How to record motions in meeting minutes?

Here are recommendations on how to write motions in meeting minutes correctly:

  1. Record the motion statement word by word.
  2. Record the person making the motion and the person seconding the motion.
  3. Record voting outcomes and choices of voting members.
  4. Record amendments to motions, appeals, and points of order.
Example: Member A moved to allocate $15,000 to the security budget for the next quarter, including $7,500 in cybersecurity software and $7,500 in physical surveillance systems. Member B and Member C seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously (Votes Aye: Member A, Member B, Member C, Board Chair).”

Tips for recording motions in meeting minutes:

  • Record action items. Briefly include contextual information, responsible members, and deadlines.
  • Avoid comments. Exclude personal opinions and editorial comments, leaving only outcomes.
  • Avoid editing the wording of motions. The secretary records motions as finally worded if participants alter the wording during discussions. 

Example board meeting motions

Check a board motion template for common actions in board meetings:

  1. Make a motion to approve meeting minutes.
  2. Make a motion to adopt a resolution.
  3. Make a motion to appoint a committee.

Motion to approve minutes

Script“I move to approve the minutes of the previous meeting as circulated.”
Discussion allowedYes
Majority vote requiredYes
Vote taken“To vote for, please say ‘Aye;’ to vote against, please say ‘Nay’”
Outcome announcement“The motion to approve the meeting minutes of the previous meeting as circulated is approved.”
Pro tip: Check our guide on what is a consent agenda for a board meeting to approve routine items in one motion.

Motion to adopt a resolution

Script“I move to adopt the resolution (Title/Description).”
Discussion allowedYes
Majority vote requiredYes
Vote taken“To vote for, please say ‘Aye;’ to vote against, please say ‘Nay’”
Outcome announcement“The motion to adopt the resolution [Title/Description] is approved.”
Pro tip: Check how to fit business items such as resolutions in a nonprofit board meeting agenda.

Motion to appoint a committee

Script“I move to appoint a [Committee name] committee to [Purpose].”
Discussion allowedYes
Majority vote requiredYes
Vote taken“To vote for, please say ‘Aye;’ to vote against, please say ‘Nay’”
Outcome announcement“The motion to appoint a [Committee name] committee to [Purpose] is approved.”
Pro tip: Check how to run an advisory board meeting and get a free advisory meeting agenda template.

How to run a meeting with motions: 3 best practices

Here are the best practices for making motions in board meetings:

  1. Set clear agendas
  2. Promote active discussions
  3. Digitize your board meetings

Set clear agendas

While most board directors have sufficient expertise, only 30% conduct productive meetings. You can use a clear board meeting agenda to help everyone focus on business matters and maintain meaningful discussions while making motions.

It also helps nonprofits and associations stay compliant with meeting regulations. Here are the tips for setting the agenda:

  • Assign speakers to business items. Define board members responsible for business items on the agenda. It will encourage them to prepare thoroughly and maintain a clear discussion order. 
  • Treat motions as business items. Business items imply that responsible board members make motions. Each item initiates a motion sequence, starting with the assigned person.
Pro tip: See how to make a complaint HOA board meeting agenda.

Promote active discussions

Allocating sufficient time and promoting active discussions is crucial:

  • Follow a 20-minute rule. Studies suggest 20 minutes as an optimal time frame for a presentation in a corporate setting (discussion included).
  • Balance time and productivity. It’s also important to balance the length and number of items on the agenda. Allocate a maximum of two hours per meeting and take breaks every 45 minutes.
  • Encourage participation. Rotate business items between board members to ensure everyone has a chance to speak and practice a parliamentary procedure. This method promotes a formal order of discussions.

Digitize your board meetings

You can make your board meetings far more convenient with dedicated board portals:

  • No more cumbersome paperwork. Access all board materials in one synchronized place and distribute board packs without spending a cent on printing and delivery.
  • Interactive agendas and meeting minutes. Compile digital agendas, write meeting minutes, and record motions using drag-and-drop builders.
  • Full audit trail. Enjoy time stamps, voting results, quorum confirmations, and drill-down user activity reports for smooth record-keeping.

Bottom line

  • Board members make motions in the following order: ask for permission to speak, state a motion, debate, and vote to approve a motion.
  • Create clear meeting agendas, allocate enough time for motions, and maintain order of discussion.
  • Use board management technology to streamline the motion process.


What is a motion in a meeting?

A motion is an official proposal of an idea or action in a board meeting. It’s a formal way to introduce a matter for discussion and voting.

Who can make a motion at a meeting?

Voting board members can make motions at board meetings.

Can a board chair make a motion?

The board chair can make all motion types, including seconding, amendments, and approvals.

Can the board secretary vote to approve a motion?

A board secretary can approve a motion if they are a voting member and part of the quorum. A board secretary cannot vote if they have an exclusively administrative role.

Can you vote to approve your motion?

As a voting member and part of the quorum, you are generally required to participate in the voting procedure.

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Casey Johnson Marketing strategist
Casey Johnson is a seasoned marketing strategist specializing in board portals. With over a decade of experience, she spearheads comprehensive marketing campaigns to enhance brand visibility and drive growth. Casey orchestrates content plans, conducts market research, and collaborates with content creators to ensure impactful marketing strategies.
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