What Are Robert’s Rules of Order for Meetings?
When conducting a meeting, it is crucial to keep order and ensure the smooth execution of the meeting’s agenda. One of the most common ways to do this is by adopting a set of rules. This gives each attendee a framework for how the meeting will go while ensuring efficiency as each agenda item is ticked off. One set of rules still used today is Robert’s Rules of Order.
What Are Robert’s Rules of Order?
Robert’s Rules of Order is a book first written in 1876 detailing the procedure of a formal meeting. One of the main parts of the rules pertains to motions and how they are executed. There are six types of motions in Robert’s Rules of Order, which include a main motion to introduce a new item.
The other motions are as follows:
- A subsidiary motion is used to change how main motions are handled.
- Privileged motions are used for items unrelated to the current topic but which are urgent.
- An incidental motion brings into question the procedure of other motions.
- A motion to table effectively ends the motion in question.
- A motion to postpone delays holding a vote to a later time
- Now that you know the types of motions, you must also know the steps. For a motion to be carried, someone must signal to the chairperson by standing or raising a hand. Another person can then second the motion by raising their hand or standing for the acknowledgment of the chairperson. After the motion and a second, the chairperson will restate the motion for everyone to hear.
Next, a debate can ensue in which participants can engage respectfully in a dialogue. Once the debate has concluded, a vote must take place. At this time, the motion will be read one more time before asking for ayes and nays. After the vote, the chairperson will read the results, which will end the motion.
While motions are one of the most important parts of Robert’s Rules of Order, they also cover how the meeting is opened and adjourned. There are even rules for rare circumstances that would require meetings to go on recess or extend the duration beyond the allotted time. Why Are Robert’s Rules of Order Used?
Businesses and government entities commonly use Robert’s Rules of Order in part because of widespread acceptance. So many entities already follow the rules that new entities can easily adopt them. It is simply a matter of tradition and using something that works and does not need replacement.
The book contains all aspects of meetings and procedures; therefore, it is much easier for an entity to adopt the rules in totality than to write its own. If a problem arises during a meeting and there is a question on how to proceed, a quick consult of the book should answer it.
It also sets the pace for how a meeting will be carried out as well as the proper wording that should be used when introducing a motion. While the words used may not seem like a crucial factor, this prevents any ambiguity in decisions.
Another important facet of Robert’s Rules of Order is the keeping of order and civility. A meeting can quickly devolve into a shouting match when several impassioned attendees wish to speak. The Rules of Order give specific guidance on how a desire to speak should be displayed as well as how it is acknowledged and carried out. This ensures the speaker has the undivided attention of everyone in attendance.
A common misconception is that the Rules of Order for a meeting replace the need for an agenda. However, this is not the case, as meeting rules dictate the formal process of carrying out a meeting agenda. You are still free to have the meeting in any order you wish.
Pros and Cons of Robert’s Rules of Order
Although Robert’s Rules of Order are a popular choice for meetings, you should weigh the pros and cons before making a final decision.
One of the biggest pros of the Rules of Order is that they are very in-depth and cover a wide range of scenarios. They also cover how you should proceed should these situations arise. However, this book comes in at around 700 pages because of just how many scenarios it covers, which could make it tricky