Trustee Toolkit

Using Rules of Order

Everyone has been to meetings. Some are orderly, business-like and much is accomplished. Others drag on forever with discussions veering off topic and few decisions being made. Using rules of order in a meeting helps keep things on track by ensuring that:

  • Everyone is treated equally and with courtesy
  • The board examines just one piece of business at a time
  • Everyone has a right to be heard, including the minority
  • The majority rules.

If these points don’t describe your meetings, you need to brush up on your Board’s rules of order or reconsider the rules you are using.

Trustees are like people everywhere. If you choose to be informal, it can be difficult to tighten up later if you need to. If your agreed-to rules provide for some formality, then it is easy to relax them to encourage more open discussion and interaction. Regardless of where you find that balance, all meetings must be conducted according to the laws of the land, your own bylaws and policies, and your rule book or stated meeting procedures.

If you want a formal procedure, then you need to decide what rules to use and write those into your rulebook. Check out Knowing what to expect at meetings for some basic rules of order and Handling motions for a more detailed summary. These guidelines are based on Robert’s Rules of Order.

You can also ask a librarian to look for books that offer alternatives. Take time to find something that works for you and your Board.

Trustee Toolkit