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The key points of 'Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition' by Henry M. Robert III

Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition by Henry M. Robert III is a comprehensive guide to conducting effective and efficient meetings. Understanding the basics of Robert's Rules is essential for anyone involved in organizational decision-making processes. This article explores the key points of the 12th edition, focusing on the purpose, principles, application, roles, responsibilities, decision-making techniques, and conflict resolution strategies outlined in the book.

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding the purpose and key principles of Robert's Rules is crucial for successful meeting management.

  • Chairpersons play a vital role in ensuring meetings run smoothly by following the rules and facilitating discussions effectively.

  • Participants should be familiar with their responsibilities in meetings, including making motions and participating in voting procedures.

  • Effective decision-making using Robert's Rules involves understanding how to make motions, conduct voting procedures, and resolve conflicts professionally.

  • Following Robert's Rules can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of decision-making processes in meetings.

Understanding the Basics of Robert's Rules of Order

Purpose of Robert's Rules

The primary purpose of Robert's Rules of Order is to facilitate smooth and orderly meetings. It provides a standardized set of procedures for conducting business within assemblies, ensuring that every member has the opportunity to voice their opinions in an organized manner. The rules are designed to balance the rights of the individual with the collective will of the group.

Meetings can often become chaotic without a clear set of guidelines. Robert's Rules offer a democratic process for decision-making, allowing for a fair and transparent way to deliberate and resolve issues. The use of Robert's Rules is widespread, from small clubs to large legislative bodies, indicating its effectiveness in maintaining order and decorum.

The following list outlines the core objectives that Robert's Rules aim to achieve:

  • To provide a framework for conducting meetings efficiently.

  • To ensure that all members have equal rights and opportunities to contribute.

  • To maintain order and focus during discussions.

  • To facilitate the decision-making process through clear and structured motions.

Key Principles

At the heart of Robert's Rules of Order are the key principles designed to maintain order and ensure fairness in group decision-making. Majority rule is a cornerstone, ensuring that the will of the majority is implemented, while protecting the rights of the minority to be heard. Parliamentary procedure serves as the framework for discussion and action on proposals, facilitating clear and efficient decision-making.

  • All members have equal rights, privileges, and obligations.

  • A quorum must be present to make any decisions to prevent a small, unrepresentative group from taking action on behalf of the whole.

  • Only one question at a time can be addressed to keep discussions focused.

Application in Meetings

The application of Robert's Rules in meetings is pivotal for maintaining order and ensuring fair play. Meetings are structured around a clear set of procedures that guide the discussion and decision-making process. Participants must be familiar with these rules to effectively contribute and navigate the meeting's flow.

Meetings should start with a call to order, followed by roll call, approval of previous meeting minutes, reports, old and new business, and finally, adjournment. This sequence ensures that all necessary topics are covered systematically:

  • Call to order

  • Roll call

  • Approval of previous meeting minutes

  • Reports

  • Old business

  • New business

  • Adjournment

Roles and Responsibilities in Following Robert's Rules

Chairperson's Duties

The chairperson plays a pivotal role in ensuring that meetings are conducted in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order. Their primary duty is to facilitate discussion, maintain order, and ensure that every member has an equal opportunity to participate. The chairperson must remain impartial, refraining from entering debates unless absolutely necessary.

  • Call the meeting to order at the appointed time

  • Announce the business items in the order they are to be addressed

  • Recognize members who wish to speak and ensure that debate is conducted fairly

  • Put motions to a vote and announce the results

Secretary's Role

The Secretary plays a pivotal role in maintaining the integrity of the meeting process under Robert's Rules. Accurate record-keeping is the cornerstone of the Secretary's duties, ensuring that all actions and decisions are documented for future reference. The Secretary is responsible for preparing and distributing the minutes of each meeting, which include a record of motions, votes, and outcomes.

Minutes should be clear, concise, and reflect the true proceedings of the meeting. To assist in this task, the Secretary may utilize the following list:

  • Taking note of the meeting's start and end times

  • Recording the names of the members present

  • Documenting the agenda items discussed

  • Detailing the exact wording of motions and amendments

  • Noting the results of any votes taken

Participant's Responsibilities

In the context of meetings governed by Robert's Rules, participants have a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth operation and fairness of proceedings. Each member is expected to be familiar with the basic rules and procedures to contribute effectively. It is the duty of participants to engage in discussions, offer insights, and respect the opinions of others.

Active participation is key, which includes being prepared for meetings, staying attentive, and adhering to the agreed-upon rules. Participants should also be ready to make motions, second others' motions, and vote on issues in a timely manner. The following list outlines the core responsibilities:

  • Arrive on time and be prepared with any necessary documents or information

  • Listen respectfully to the chairperson and other members

  • Abide by the speaking order and time limits

  • Seek clarification on any points of confusion

  • Contribute constructively to debates

Effective Decision-Making Using Robert's Rules

Making Motions

In the context of Robert's Rules of Order, making motions is the fundamental process by which members propose decisions or actions for the group's consideration. A motion, once made and seconded, is subject to debate and amendment before the assembly votes on it.

Motion types vary, and understanding when to use each is crucial for effective meeting management. Here's a brief overview of common motion types:

  • Main motions propose substantive action.

  • Subsidiary motions modify or affect how a main motion is handled.

  • Privileged motions address urgent matters unrelated to the current business.

  • Incidental motions arise out of other motions and must be decided immediately.

Remember, the correct formulation and presentation of a motion can significantly influence the meeting's flow and the ease with which decisions are reached.

Voting Procedures

In Robert's Rules of Order, voting procedures are essential for the democratic process within an organization. A clear understanding of these procedures ensures that all members' voices are heard and that decisions are made fairly.

Majority and two-thirds votes are the most common types of voting thresholds. The choice of threshold depends on the significance of the decision being made. For routine matters, a simple majority is often sufficient, whereas more critical issues may require a two-thirds vote to pass.

Here is a basic outline of the steps involved in voting:

  1. A motion is presented.

  2. Discussion and debate on the motion occur.

  3. The chairperson calls for a vote.

  4. Members cast their votes.

  5. Votes are counted and results are announced.

Resolving Conflicts

In the context of meetings governed by Robert's Rules, conflict resolution is a structured process. It is essential to address disputes promptly and fairly to maintain the integrity of the group's decision-making. The chairperson plays a critical role in managing conflicts, ensuring that each member's voice is heard and that the debate remains focused on the issue at hand, not on personal differences.

Debate is a key aspect of resolving conflicts within Robert's Rules. Members are encouraged to express their views and provide arguments for or against a motion. However, it is important to remember the principles of The Four Agreements, particularly to be impeccable with words and to avoid taking things personally. This approach helps to maintain a respectful and productive environment.

The following steps outline the general process for resolving conflicts:

  1. A member raises a concern or objection.

  2. The chairperson acknowledges the issue and ensures a fair hearing.

  3. Members debate the matter, adhering to the rules of decorum.

  4. If necessary, a motion to resolve the dispute is introduced.

  5. The assembly votes on the motion, and the majority decision is implemented.


In conclusion, 'Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition' by Henry M. Robert III provides a comprehensive guide to parliamentary procedure and meeting management. The key points discussed in this article highlight the importance of following proper rules and protocols in conducting meetings effectively. By understanding and implementing the principles outlined in Robert's Rules of Order, individuals and organizations can ensure fair and orderly decision-making processes. This book serves as a valuable resource for anyone involved in governance, leadership, or group decision-making.

Understanding the Basics of Robert's Rules of Order

What is the purpose of Robert's Rules of Order?

Robert's Rules of Order serves as a guide for conducting meetings in an orderly and fair manner, ensuring all participants have a chance to voice their opinions and decisions are made efficiently.

What are the key principles of Robert's Rules of Order?

The key principles include fairness, impartiality, efficiency, and adherence to established procedures to facilitate smooth decision-making and discussion during meetings.

How are Robert's Rules of Order applied in meetings?

Robert's Rules of Order are applied by following the prescribed procedures for making motions, voting, and resolving conflicts, as outlined in the book.

How can the Chairperson ensure compliance with Robert's Rules of Order?

The Chairperson can ensure compliance by familiarizing themselves with the rules, guiding discussions according to the procedures, and maintaining order throughout the meeting.

What is the role of the Secretary in relation to Robert's Rules of Order?

The Secretary is responsible for keeping accurate records of the meeting proceedings, including motions, votes, and decisions made in accordance with Robert's Rules of Order.

What are the responsibilities of participants in following Robert's Rules of Order?

Participants are expected to adhere to the rules, respect the speaking order, make motions when appropriate, and participate constructively in discussions to facilitate effective decision-making.

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