Robert’s Rules of Order provide a proven framework for managing meetings in the parliamentary field — any industry. However, the latest version has around 700 pages. As such, you may find it difficult to refer back to the text during your next board meeting.
Within this article, we’ll be looking at the following:
- What are Robert’s Rules of Order?
- How can those rules be used to run a meeting?
- How boardroom software can help your meetings
Read on for more information.
What are Robert’s Rules of Order?
Robert’s Rules of Order is a top-tier guide for the correct parliamentary procedure in the United States. Companies, fraternal entities, and governments use these rules to govern meetings.
Henry Martyn Robert, an engineering officer in the US military, wrote these rules as a guide for all. However, when he was asked to preside over a meeting at his church, he was embarrassed by his lack of knowledge on the matter. Eventually, he would educate himself on parliamentary law.
As he traveled the country during his military service, Robert discovered that each local government had its own version of proper procedure. As such, he wrote Robert’s Rules of Order.
How to run a meeting using Robert’s Rules of Order?
At their core, Henry Martyn Robert wrote Robert’s Rules of Order to make sure meetings were democratic, orderly, efficient, and fair.
The most current edition (the twelfth revision) shows a willingness to keep these rules current and in line with modern-day parliamentary procedures. Interestingly, all editions published after the death of Henry Martyn Robert were written by people who either knew the original author or connected to those who updated the rules on Robert’s behalf.
Any chair should allow members to voice opinions or raise and address issues in a dignified manner so that the other participants can hear clearly. As such, Robert’s Rules of Order would suggest that the chair should run the meetings in the following way:
- Follow the pre-agreed agenda, and keep the meeting moving toward its primary objectives.
- Do not over-command; let the group work organically, if possible.
- Control the efficiency and fairness of the meeting by giving the floor to those who ask to speak.
- Let every participant speak once before giving others the floor a second time.
- If a discussion gets side-tracked, refocus it back on topic.
- Set an example for respect and courtesy; let participants know you expect the same.
- Enhance the board’s parliamentary procedure skills by implementing the correct points of order and motions (more on those in a moment).
- Give the speaker your complete attention.
- Allow for a consensus to have the final say on all meeting-related issues.
In the Robert’s Rules of Order newly revised edition, the text identifies a range of motion types, as well as the procedure for considering these motions. These motions include:
- Main Motion: Introduce a new topic of discussion.
- Subsidiary Motion: Change how the group handles the main motion.
- Privileged Motion: An urgent matter not necessarily relating to any pending company business.
- Incidental Motion: A debate procedure of other motions.
- Motion to Table: Adjourns or suspends a motion.
- Motion to Postpone: Look to postpone a vote.
All of these motions follow six steps:
- Motion: A member raises their hand or rises to signal the chair
- Second: A second board member seconds the motion.
- Restate motion: The chair then repeats the motion.
- Debate: The present members debate and discuss the motion.
- Vote: The chair asks for votes for and against the motion.
- Announce the vote: Following the tallying of votes, the chair announces the result and restates any instructions.
If specific issues need to be discussed during a meeting but don’t require a motion or vote, Robert’s Rules of Order states that the chair can handle these points straight away if declared. These include:
- Point of Order: This draws attention to any improper procedure or breaching of the rules or agreed-upon practices
- Point of Information: If a board member needs to discuss additional information (such as a non-debatable statement) to help other members make informed decisions during the voting process.
- Point of Inquiry: Essentially a question, the point of inquiry consists of asking for clarification to make wise voting choices.
- Point of Personal Privilege: A member may use this point to address numerous topics and issues. This may include the room’s temperature, any noise outside, or the accuracy of the board pack.
How can boardroom software be helpful?
Now that we’ve shown you how to run a meeting using Robert’s Rules of Order, you may want to think about digital software to facilitate the meeting process further.
If you use a secure board portal, you guarantee confidentiality among your shareholders. Although board meetings usually involve many sensitive documents, boardroom software has user permissions, so only certain personnel can access the files.
In addition, most boardroom software has a feature to log votes instantaneously, meaning you don’t have to record them in your minutes manually.
Speaking of minutes, your boardroom software will provide a safe space where you can go back and review the minutes from previous meetings, perfect for those who are unable to attend a particular session. It will also reduce admin costs and increase board member engagement before, during, and after the meeting.
In conclusion, thanks to Robert’s Rules of Order (and coupled with modern boardroom software), board meetings are efficient and well-organized, which benefits the company in the long run.