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VT readers ask questions about volunteer management and administration. Ask Connie, an experienced volunteer manager, consultant and trainer, provides the answers for all to see.
Send questions to AskConnieP@cs.com

~ May 2007 ~ Topics

More on Robert and His Rules: Top Ten Rules of Order

Dear Readers:

I heard from many of you about the challenges of running effective meetings, both for large and small groups. So, here are some additional tips that I hope you find helpful. These tips are taken from Trout's Top Ten Rules of Order (parliamentary procedure made easy) from Stan L. Trout, PRP.  More information is available on his web site [www.newkent.net/rules.html].

1. Don't let the rules get you down.  Many meetings run smoothly with informal use of rules.

2. Disagree without being disagreeable.

3. The Chairman runs the meeting.  It’s important to have a skilled chairman who knows how to chair a meeting, not just someone who has seniority or who is taking his/her turn.

4. Close Debate by Unanimous Consent.  Move the Previous Question, the motion to close debate requires a 2/3rd standing vote. All of this takes time, which you were trying to save by closing debate. Ask the members if it is their desire to close debate. If there is no objection, debate can be closed by unanimous consent without a vote.

5. Use a counted vote to approve a project.  In a small organization you might use a voice vote or consensus to make most decisions, but a counted vote can be helpful. If you are planning a project, those members who raise their hands in favor of the motion should be expected to show up and participate in the project. 

6. Voting is important.  Even if a meeting uses informal rules, it’s important to ensure that each member's vote is properly counted. For close votes and elections by ballot, you'll need someone familiar with parliamentary procedure.

7. Use a qualified Parliamentarian.  In a large meeting or convention make sure someone who knows parliamentary procedure is at the podium to assist the Chairman. This person should be a Registered Parliamentarian (National Association of Parliamentarians) [http://www.parliamentarians.org] or a Certified Parliamentarian (American Institute of Parliamentarians) [http://www.aipparlipro.org] and not a member of your organization. 

8. Use the right parliamentary book for your organization.  If you decide to buy a book on Parliamentary Procedure, check the Parliamentary Authority section of your organization’s bylaws. If it specifies Robert’s Rules, get a copy of Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th Edition, 2000. But if it indicates another authority, you’ll have to look for that book.

9. Every meeting is a partnership between the leader and the participants.

10. Your meeting should enforce the will of the majority while protecting the rights of all members. 


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Connie Pirtle, of Strategic NonProfit-Resources, has 15 years' experience in working with volunteers. She has consulted and/or trained for such organizations as the Washington National Cathedral, Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Music America, and the Association for Volunteer Administration.

Send your questions to Connie at AskConnieP@cs.com.
Connie Pirtle
Strategic Nonprofit Resources
10103 Edward Avenue * Bethesda, MD 20814 * VOICE: 301-530-8233 * FAX: 301-530-8299

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