Robert's Rules of Order

Robert’s Rules of Order (1915) is the oldest and most commonly used guide to parliamentary procedure, a set of rules for conduct at meetings that allows everyone to be heard and to make decisions without confusion. Because of its age, the book has been adapted many times and has specific rules about meeting processes, making it confusing to many. The following guide serves as a cheat sheet for running effective meetings.

The following outlines the structure of a typical meeting using this method.

  1. Call to order.
  2. Roll call of members present (voting delegate to respond).
  3. Reading of the minutes of the last meeting.
    • Meeting leader typically will ask if there are any additions or changes to the minutes.
    • This typically will be followed by a vote to approve the minutes.
  4. Officers’ reports
    • These are simply updates and do not include votes.
  5. Committee reports
    • These also are updates and do not include votes.
  6. Old business
    • This is important business previously planned for discussion at the current meeting.
    • This can include items that were discussed at the last meeting, but more information was needed or they weren’t on the agenda for a vote.
    • Old business can include votes.
  7. Regular business
    • This is any item listed on the agenda as regular business for the body to discuss.
    • The body can vote on each issue listed on the agenda.
    • The body cannot vote on any item not listed on the agenda.
    • The body also can vote to table discussion of any item until a later meeting, but they must either set a date for more discussion or postpone indefinitely.
  8. New business
    • Any new business or resolutions before the body that requires a vote.
    • This must also include a description on the agenda.
  9. Announcements
    • These are announcements from the body, but do not include votes.
  10. Adjournment
    • The meeting leader will move for adjournment, signifying the end of the meeting. 


Motions are typical methods used by members of a body to express themselves during a meeting. A motion is a proposal that the entire membership can take action on. There are six basic types of motions:

  1. Main Motions:
    • Introduces items to the membership for their consideration.
    • They cannot be made when any other motion is on the floor.
  2. Subsidiary Motions:
    • Change or affect how a main motion is handled, and is voted on before a main motion.
  3. Privileged Motions:
    • Bring up items that are urgent about special or important matters unrelated to pending business.
  4. Incidental Motions:
    • Provide a means of questioning procedure concerning other motions and must be considered before the other motion.
  5. Motion to Table
    • Used in the attempt to "kill" a motion.
  6. Motion to Postpone:
    • This is often used as a means of parliamentary strategy and allows opponents of motion to test their strength without an actual vote being taken.
    • Also, debate is once again open on the main motion.
    • This can be a postponement until a set date or indefinitely. 


Motions are presented by:

  1. Obtaining the floor
    • Wait until the last speaker has finished.
    • Rise and address the Chairman by saying, "Mr. (or Ms.) Chairman"
    • Wait until the Chairman recognizes you.
  2. Make Your Motion using “I move that we…”
  3. Wait for Someone to Second Your Motion
    • Another member can second your motion or the Chairman will call for a second.
  4. If there is no second to your motion, it is lost.