Business Meeting Rules

Ever wondered what a nonprofit meeting was like? You felt like you were missing something important? There was likely no order in the way the forum was run. It’s possible that you weren’t sure who was in charge of what. It may seem exaggerated. It can happen, even if you don’t follow business meeting rules.

Nonprofit organizations hold many meetings with various stakeholders. Therefore, it is essential to plan well. Business meetings must adhere to Roberts’s rules of procedure or parliamentary procedures to be successful. What does this mean, and why are we required to have it?

Understanding the business rules

Robert’s Rules of Order was published in 1876, the first publication of business meeting rules. Henry Martin Robert was an Army officer. To make rules that could be used in non-legislative situations, he took lessons from congress.

The manual is now available in schools, churches, trade unions, and nonprofit organizations. It promotes democratic leadership where everyone has equal weight. It also outlines each step involved in running meetings.

What are the benefits of implementing meeting rules

The rules can help organizations achieve great things. Here are some of the benefits:

  • These rules set expectations and guide procedures
  • Each participant in a meeting knows what their role is
  • Everyone has a right to speak because of the democratic nature of the process. Therefore, everyone should not be afraid to voice their opinion on any issue.
  • Motions and voting are smoother, which results in less conflict and confusion
  • Meetings run more efficiently

Online meeting for nonprofits

Since the creation of business rules, there have been many changes. However, the essential elements that were useful 145 years ago still apply today. What does this mean?

Before, meeting in one place was the only way to hold a meeting. The digital space has opened up new possibilities. Nonprofits can have conversations with people all over the globe.

You only need the right tools, internet connectivity, and that’s it. Google and other platforms offer great tools for nonprofit organizations. For example, Google Meet allows you to use video conferencing. Nonprofits can host hundreds at once.

Another great platform is Google for nonprofits. It is also free for nonprofits. To find out if your nonprofit is eligible, take a moment to review the eligibility criteria.

G-suite offers tools to help you with document storage and preparation. For example, participants can access documents stored in the cloud from their meetings. In addition, YouTube for Nonprofits allows you to show off your activities through video content.

What meeting rules should your nonprofit implement?

Despite all technological advances, certain things are constant. For example, nonprofits should still follow the rules for business meetings. It doesn’t matter if the sessions take place online or offline. They must be adhered to by everyone.

These are the rules.

1. To save time and keep order, prepare for meetings

Participants and moderators must plan well in advance. For example, they should be familiar with the topic, speaker, and order of the processes. This information will be included in the plan. It is essential to allocate enough time for each task to avoid time wastage.

2. Order of business to move things along

A plan must be the central focus of a formal meeting. The schedule should outline the goals and the method of action. It is helpful if the nonprofit can prioritize the items to make it easier to move through them.

These are the basic principles:

  • Accept and read the minutes of previous meetings
  • Reports presented by various committees
  • Special orders
  • General orders and unfinished work
  • New business

You may not be able to follow all the steps. Each meeting has its schedule. The moderators can adjust them to meet their needs.

The team will move on to the next issue if no business has been pending from the previous session. Each participant must have a copy of the plan before they meet.

3. A quorum is required for accountability and decision-making

The quorum refers to the minimum number of people that should attend. However, participants should be representative of a larger group.

Participants can vote for and make motions that apply to all. They also include non-attending members. A quorum is not defined by one percentage or number. Instead, each organization will decide what representative is.

The chair decides whether those present meet the minimum order requirement. They will then allow the meeting to continue according to the order of business. The chair can call off or reschedule the appointment if the numbers are insufficient to meet the quorum requirement.

Note that a quorum could not be related to the number of attendees. It is possible that the organization’s rules only consider the number of members who attend.

The room might be complete, but only one or two members of the board are present. This situation would make it impossible for the meeting not to continue.

4. Motions to discuss and generate ideas

The motions are a way to bring up a new business at the meeting. A participant may make a motion. A member must acknowledge that the moderator has heard them.

The moderator will then ask the participants to support the motion. The motion is discarded if no one keeps it. Then, the moderator notifies everyone who seconded it, and the action moves to the next stage.

The motion will be put to the vote by the members. If the team fails to reach a consensus, the members can revisit or renew the motion.

There must be order throughout the entire process.

Anybody who wishes to speak must state their intent. The speaker must wait for the moderator’s approval before speaking.

Unnecessary interruptions could result if the moderator leaves the room open. In such situations, some members can get too involved and even fight.

Good moderators must give time frames for each step. All of us have been there. The process will move if you stick to the timeline.

The discussion may drag on too long if this happens. The only way to get more information is to table the motion. It means that the next meeting will continue, with the pending action being one of the first items to be addressed.

Let’s assume that the motion is to outsource digital marketing services. It may be a topic that some people in the group have reservations about. Some may believe that the money would be better spent on other projects.

For example, a committee could be formed to investigate the viability and feasibility of the motion. The members of the committee would have to present their findings at each meeting.

5. Voting is required for all decision-making purposes

Voting is crucial for decision-making. As in the case with the motion, at least one participant must support the topic. Each member has one vote. If more than half of the members agree, it becomes the majority vote. It could be either a yes or no vote.

The rules of the nonprofit organization determine the outcome of any decision. For example, a majority vote could mean at most two-thirds of the representation.

Each organization has its own voting rules. Some organizations will allow active participants in the voting process. Some others leave the decision up to the board.

The moderator will call it quits once there has been consensus on voting and no other business. As in the motion, the moderator must second the closing.

6. Minutes for record-keeping

It is essential to keep a record of all that takes place during a meeting. Minutes are a record of all the proceedings. These minutes provide an overview of the entire thing or a simple explanation. The document doesn’t need to be detailed.

Proper minutes should include the date, time, and list of participants. It should also include any resolutions and summaries of reports. Finally, it must also have any conflicts.

Minutes must reflect any steps taken to resolve the dispute. In addition, the minutes must contain the signature and name of the person who prepared the document.

The next meeting will approve the minutes. The majority of organizations leave this task to the board. However, it could vary.

Final thoughts

These rules will help you organize your business meetings and make them run smoothly. Everyone is clear about their roles and expectations. It is easier to vote, discuss and pass motions if everyone follows the rules. You can also leverage your business plan to keep your goals, strategy, and performance in your mind at all times.

Meetings can become chaotic if rules do not govern them. It will be impossible to make crucial decisions about issues that affect the organization. These guidelines will help you keep your nonprofit organization on the right track and allow you to focus on what is important: your mission.

Disclaimer. The opinions and views expressed in this article are the authors Shalom Lamm.

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