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Practical Leadership

Robert's Rules of Order

By ITW Staff
How to run and manage committees and board meetings! Common rules and procedures for Fair and Orderly Meetings & Conventions...
By General Henry M. Robert 1915 Version, Public Domain How to run and manage committees and board meetings Robert's Rules of Order - Summary Version

For Fair and Orderly Meetings & Conventions

Provides common rules and procedures for deliberation and debate in order to place the whole membership on the same footing and speaking the same language. The conduct of ALL business is controlled by the general will of the whole membership - the right of the deliberate majority to decide. Complementary is the right of at least a strong minority to require the majority to be deliberate - to act according to its considered judgment AFTER a full and fair "working through" of the issues involved. Robert's Rules provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to help, not hinder, the business of the assembly. Under no circumstances should "undue strictness" be allowed to intimidate members or limit full participation.

The fundamental right of deliberative assemblies require all questions to be thoroughly discussed before taking action!

The assembly rules - they have the final say on everything!
Silence means consent!

· Obtain the floor (the right to speak) by being the first to stand when the person speaking has finished; state Mr./Madam Chairman. Raising your hand means nothing, and standing while another has the floor is out of order! Must be recognized by the Chair before speaking!

· Debate can not begin until the Chair has stated the motion or resolution and asked "are you ready for the question?" If no one rises, the chair calls for the vote!

· Before the motion is stated by the Chair (the question) members may suggest modification of the motion; the mover can modify as he pleases, or even withdraw the motion without consent of the seconder; if mover modifies, the seconder can withdraw the second.

· The "immediately pending question" is the last question stated by the Chair! Motion/Resolution - Amendment - Motion to Postpone

· The member moving the "immediately pending question" is entitled to preference to the floor!

· No member can speak twice to the same issue until everyone else wishing to speak has spoken to it once!

· All remarks must be directed to the Chair. Remarks must be courteous in language and deportment - avoid all personalities, never allude to others by name or to motives!

· The agenda and all committee reports are merely recommendations! When presented to the assembly and the question is stated, debate begins and changes occur!

The Rules

· Point of Privilege: Pertains to noise, personal comfort, etc. - may interrupt only if necessary!

· Parliamentary Inquiry: Inquire as to the correct motion - to accomplish a desired result, or raise a point of order

· Point of Information: Generally applies to information desired from the speaker: "I should like to ask the (speaker) a question."

· Orders of the Day (Agenda): A call to adhere to the agenda (a deviation from the agenda requires Suspending the Rules)

· Point of Order: Infraction of the rules, or improper decorum in speaking. Must be raised immediately after the error is made

· Main Motion: Brings new business (the next item on the agenda) before the assembly

· Divide the Question: Divides a motion into two or more separate motions (must be able to stand on their own)

· Consider by Paragraph: Adoption of paper is held until all paragraphs are debated and amended and entire paper is satisfactory; after all paragraphs are considered, the entire paper is then open to amendment, and paragraphs may be further amended. Any Preamble can not be considered until debate on the body of the paper has ceased.

· Amend: Inserting or striking out words or paragraphs, or substituting whole paragraphs or resolutions

· Withdraw/Modify Motion: Applies only after question is stated; mover can accept an amendment without obtaining the floor

· Commit /Refer/Recommit to Committee: State the committee to receive the question or resolution; if no committee exists include size of committee desired and method of selecting the members (election or appointment).

· Extend Debate: Applies only to the immediately pending question; extends until a certain time or for a certain period of time

· Limit Debate: Closing debate at a certain time, or limiting to a certain period of time

· Postpone to a Certain Time: State the time the motion or agenda item will be resumed

· Object to Consideration: Objection must be stated before discussion or another motion is stated

· Lay on the Table: Temporarily suspends further consideration/action on pending question; may be made after motion to close debate has carried or is pending

· Take from the Table: Resumes consideration of item previously "laid on the table" - state the motion to take from the table

· Reconsider: Can be made only by one on the prevailing side who has changed position or view

· Postpone Indefinitely: Kills the question/resolution for this session - exception: the motion to reconsider can be made this session

· Previous Question: Closes debate if successful - may be moved to "Close Debate" if preferred

· Informal Consideration: Move that the assembly go into "Committee of the Whole" - informal debate as if in committee; this committee may limit number or length of speeches or close debate by other means by a 2/3 vote. All votes, however, are formal.

· Appeal Decision of the Chair: Appeal for the assembly to decide - must be made before other business is resumed; NOT debatable if relates to decorum, violation of rules or order of business

· Suspend the Rules: Allows a violation of the assembly's own rules (except Constitution); the object of the suspension must be specified

© 1997 Beverly Kennedy

Summary of Robert's Rules of Order www.RooseveltIsland.ORG/rira/roberts-summary.html

Source: Material supplied by Guy Midkiff.


Assist assembly indisposing of main motions.

  • A. Postpone Indefinitely-11-(Disposes of a questionable main motion and avoids a vote)

  • B. Move to Amend-12-(Motion more suitable in altered form/change wording)

  • C. Refer to Committee-13-(Return motion to committee for study/redraft)

  • D. Move to Postpone-14-(To a certain time, Definitely or simply Postpone)

  • E. To Limit or Extend Limits of Debate-15-(Debate consuming too much time)

  • F. Moving the Previous Question-16-(Close debate and amendment of a pending motion for an immediate vote)

  • G. Lay on the Table-17-(Lays motion aside temporarily w/out setting a time to <Highest Priority>resume and can be taken up again when majority decides)

Interrupts any other consideration and have to do with matters of overriding importance.

  • A. Call for Orders of the Day-18-(Agenda not being followed)

  • B. Question of Privilege-19-(Allows interruption of pending business to make urgent request or motion)

  • C. Move to Recess-20-(Short intermission)

  • D. Move to Adjourn-21-(Can close meeting)

Related to main question and decided immediately.

  • A. Point of Order-23-(Breach of parliamentary rules and requires ruling by chair)

  • B. Appeal-24-(Requires immediate second by other member and forces and assembly vote on the chairs ruling)

  • C. Suspend the Rules-25-(Allows to violate applicable rules to allow accomplishment)

  • D. Objection to Consideration of Question-26- (Forces Assembly vote "before debate" on a controversial motion. Requires 2/3 vote to drop)

  • E. Division of a Question-27-

  • F. Consideration by Paragraph-28-

  • G. Division of Assembly-29-(When results of voice vote is questioned. Member can get a standing vote but not order a count-only chair can)

  • H. Methods of Voting and the Polls-30-(Division of Assembly appears inconclusive and chair fails to order a count, member can move for vote by ballot, roll call or standing vote and must be seconded)

  • I. Relating to Nominations-31-(Nomination method not prescribed in Bylaw, member can move to specify nomination method, close nominations or reopen them)

  • J. Request and Inquiries-32-

    • a. Parliamentary Inquiry(Request for chairs opinion)

    • b. Point of Information(Inquiry to facts affecting business at hand directed to chair)

    • c. Request for Permission to Withdraw or Modify a Motion

    • d. Request to Read Papers

    • e. Requested to Be Excused from a Duty.

    • f. Request for any other Privilege.

  • A. Take from the Table-33-(To resume consideration of a main motion on the table)

  • B. Motion to Rescind, Repeal or Annul-34-(To strike out an entire main motion, rule, bylaw, section or paragraph)

  • C. Discharge a Committee-35-(Takes matter out of hands of committee that has not yielded results)

  • D. Reconsider-36-(Member can move that a previous motionÆs vote be reconsidered if new information or changed situation has appeared*Review Limitations*)

Robert's Rules of Order - Some Basics

Edited by Carter McNamara, PhD | Applies to nonprofits and for-profits unless noted

The following was condensed from the Robert's Rules of Order and includes typical rules to manage a board meeting. Readers wanting the last official version should see Robert's Rule of Order Newly Revised, published by Scott, Foresman (known as NONR). This is the 9th Edition of Robert's book.

All motions must be seconded and adopted by a majority vote unless otherwise noted.
All motions may be debated unless otherwise noted.

About Motions

About Motions

Purpose of Motion

To Enact Motion

Main Motion

to take action on behalf of the body

debatable; requires majority vote


end the meeting

not debatable; immediately voted upon and requires majority vote

Call for Orders of the Day

asks to stick to the agenda

not debatable; requires 1/3 majority to sustain

Call to Question

closes debate and forces vote

not debatable; requires 2/3's majority vote

Motion to Limit or Extend Debate

limits or extends debate

not debatable; requires 2/3's majority vote

Point of Order

is a question about the process or a particular motion

automatic if granted by Chair

Point of Information

to ask about the process or particular motion


Motion to Rescind

to change the results of a vote

requires 2/3's majority vote to reverse results of earlier vote

Motion to Suspend the Rules

suspend formal process for a short period

debatable and requires 2/3's majority vote

About Debate

Each motion that is debated receives ten minutes of debate. The member initiating the motion speaks first. The Chair asks for a rebuttal. All members wishing to speak about the motion receive the opportunity to speak before any one member speaks for a second time.

About Voting

Majority vote is more than half of the members. 2/3's vote is more 2/3s or more of the members. Be sure to announce what is being voted on before the vote.

Used by The Management Assistance Program for Nonprofits
2233 University Avenue West, Suite 360
St. Paul, Minnesota 55114 (651) 647-1216
With permission from Carter McNamara, PhD, Copyright 1999

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