Why rules?

When to use rules: meetings more than 10 people

Rule prevent:

Rules provide fair procedures for:


Some terms are either (a) rarely used, or (b) old-fashioned sounding terms which could be replaced by approximate equivalents in modern everyday speech. I try not to use such words -- they are included here mainly for reference in case someone else uses them. I have placed these words in a separate subsection.

parliamentary procedure: a set of rules for groups to make decisions in meetings

Robert's Rules of Order: a particular parliamentary procedure. Often abbreviated to "Robert's Rules".

Rare terms and terms i don't like

deliberative assembly: a group that has to make decisions in a meeting

parliamentary authority: a reference document which defines a parliamentary procedure


to have the floor: when you have the floor, that means it's your turn to speak

to call a vote: to decide that it's time for everyone to vote on something

to preside over a meeting: to lead the meeting; the person presiding determines who has the floor, what is being discussed, and when to call a vote. If the meeting is using rules, to be the person who interprets and enforces the rules.

chairperson (or chair, or chairman, or chairwoman, or president): the person who presides

Rare terms and terms i don't like

out of order: an action which violates the rules is described as "out of order"


debate: a discussion about a particular topic, conducted according to rules

a motion: a proposal for the group to consider. There are various different types of motions which are defined in the rules.

to make a motion: to propose something

main motion: a main motion is a proposal to actually do something (all motions which are not "main" motion are proposals about how to conduct the meeting)

The group decides whether or not it agrees with a motion by voting. Most motions require >1/2 of the votes in order to pass, but some motions require >=2/3. Types of motions also differ in the circumstances in which they are permitted to be made.


a quorum: a minimum number of members who must be present at the meeting

agenda: a plan or schedule for a meeting

business: stuff to be discussed at a meeting

minutes: an official record of what was done at a meeting. The meeting minutes are formal documents whose content is specified by the rules.

committee: a formal subset of group members who meet separately to work on something and report back to the full group

Rare terms and terms i don't like

to call to order: to begin the (formal part of the) meeting

to adjourn: to end the (formal part of the) meeting

to recess: to take a break from the (formal part of the) meeting

Versions of Robert's Rules

The minutes are intended to be objective documents; therefore, they should not contain summaries of discussions (you can write a summary if you want, but you should keep it separate from the minutes). The idea is: the minutes should record only what is __done__, not what is __said__.


Common mistakes