In a nutshell: While Robert’s Rules of Order may seem outdated, outmoded, prescriptive, and even restrictive, you’d be surprised what a little bit of parliamentary procedure can do to make meetings much more highly productive. In this episode, I continue my discussion on Robert’s Rules of Order and how this can be incorporated into your meetings.
In the last episode I gave some productivity principles for effective meetings. Continuing on the Robert’s Rules of Order theme, I want to cover some steps you can take to run more effective meetings in the modern era.
While “I rise to a point of order!” sounds like you just stepped onto the floor of the British Parliament, today we can still use parliamentary procedure without sounding like we’ve stepped back in time in less formal business and organizational meetings. So, here are a few ways to use parliamentary procedure for the 21st century:
- Ask all meeting participants before you start the meeting to address you, the meeting organizer/facilitator, with “I have an idea” whenever they want to make a proposition. Everyone must use the same language of “I have an idea” to make this work.
- After anyone addresses the meeting facilitator and he or she says, “I have an idea,” it’s then up to another meeting attendee to support that proposition with “I support that idea for discussion.” Simple, right?
- Further, and this is where meeting debate can be tricky, meeting facilitators must give a time duration limit (i.e., 10 minutes, 20 minutes, or more), make an effort to pay attention to who is speaking, and who is not, when discussion begins on a topic. Ask those who have not spoken if they have an opinion or information to share. And, make sure that what’s being shared is driving toward a decision, encourage meeting participants to speak “I” not “you” statements (e.g., I feel, I know, and I think versus You are, you think and you + verb), and dissuade people from going off-topic.
- Finally, bring debate to a close with “So, what is the decision?” when time expire. You can do this through participatory consensus or if you are the decision-maker you can explain to those what you’ve heard and the decision you have made, or that you’ve taken this debate under advisement and will inform everyone of a decision as soon as you have made it.
As you can see, formal and informal meetings that need decisions made require structure for greater productivity. You know it. I know it. And, now, you have the starter tools to make it happen.