Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I gave the first of five presentations on parliamentary procedure to the Capital Toastmasters club tonight.

Parliamentary Procedure in Action is designed to provide Toastmasters with the basic skills to effectively lead and participate in parliamentary discussion. It's important that everyone know these basic rules!

Understanding parliamentary procedure is of great benefit to anyone who participates in meetings.  It ensures fairness and consistency to all participating in any meeting. Everyone should be able to have the opportunity to express their opinion, to hear other opinions and then to make an informed decision about an issue.

When organizations fail to adhere to parliamentary procedure meetings can become tense, chaotic, confusing, long and unproductive. The rules work when used properly to ensure motions are in order, members obtain the floor properly, that participants speak clearly and concisely, and obey the rules of debate.

The agenda is the nexus important of the parliamentary process. The order of business is the blueprint for the meeting, and the agenda is the specific items to be considered. Giving notice of date, time and place of the meeting, publication of and adherence to an agenda.
Knowledge of parliamentary procedure, Robert’s Rules of Order and the organizations constitution and bylaws ensure a balanced well-run meeting.

Considering that nearly all of us participate in meetings for work or volunteer organizations, having the tools and knowledge of the rules of procedure will maximize your participation and minimize your frustration with unruly sessions.

Toastmasters uses Robert’s Rules of Order as a guide to parliamentary procedure. Robert’s Rules is a time-tested method of conducting business at meetings and public gatherings.  

According to the official Robert’s Rules of Order webpage, Henry Martyn Robert was a army officer in the American Civil War. Without warning he was asked to preside over a public meeting being held in a church in his community and realized that he did not know how. He tried anyway and his embarrassment was supreme. This event, which may seem familiar to many readers, left him determined never to attend another meeting until he knew something of parliamentary law.

In its 11th edition, Robert's Rules of Order is the basic handbook of operation for most clubs, organizations and other groups.

As I present this series of talks, I’ll post updates weekly on parliamentary procedure. I'll be covering topics ranging from main motions, subsidiary motions, the hierarchy of motions and rules of debate/discussion.

if you experience any of these feelings, this series may be of interest to you: that meetings seem endless because the business could have been completed hours ago? Confusion as to what exactly is being discussed and voted on? Is one person dominateing a meeting? The feeling that you never get your voice heard in group discussion? Anger about decisions made that do not reflect the feelings of the majority of the group? 
Hopefully you will benefit from it and learn the basic skills to efficiently lead and participate in parliamentary discussion.

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