Too often members look forward to business meetings about as much as they look forward to an IRS audit. Sometimes this is because people are frustrated by a lack of efficiency or because they feel that several members always seem to take over the meeting. Maybe they believe that the "cumbersome" rules of parliamentary procedure are to blame or that they themselves are not able to have much of an impact in the decision making process.
But fear not! There are some easy steps you can take to make your meetings more effective, efficient, and even enjoyable.
In-depth planning is a good place to start. Make sure that the staff, officers, committee/task force chairs, and president are all on the same page by preparing a detailed agenda and having a review session before the big meeting. For larger meetings and conventions, consider developing a script for appropriate parts of the meetings.
Strong communication between the leadership and all the membership is also important (especially with that dissident member that always seems to triple the length of your meetings). If you are able to know what business members plan to introduce, you can develop a plan to get the assembly though it fairly and efficiently.
The president must also be able to obtain and keep the good will of the membership. This is why it is crucial that the presiding officer remains completely impartial during the meeting. As tempting as it may be for the chair to stick it to the aforementioned member (that seems to show up at almost every meeting of almost every association), proper restraint will pay back dividends in the effectiveness of the meeting and the attitudes of the members. If the members feel that the proceedings were held fairly and in good faith, then they will be more content with the results of the meeting, even if they were on the loosing side of important votes.
Finally, make sure that the rules of the meeting are being used to facilitate a democratic decision making process that protects the rights of all members. If certain members are using the rules as a club to bully others or take over the meeting, then the rules of parliamentary procedure are almost certainly being abused. If you find that the general rules under a parliamentary authority such as Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised are serving as a roadblock instead of a resource, consider a revision of your governing documents, where you can tailor the rules to your organizationís specific needs.
If you feel you donít have the training, knowledge, or time to tackle these issues, the professionals at Schilansky & Binnall, Parliamentarians are here to help you with all of these solutions and many more. Contact us today for your complementary initial consultation.