control the meeting

“Stand at ease” creates breathing space in meetings

By Ann Macfarlane / March 4, 2020 / Comments Off on “Stand at ease” creates breathing space in meetings

  Have you ever had one of those desperate moments in a meeting where you just don’t know what to do? I certainly have! There is a great tool to use at such a time. The chair can direct the members to “stand at ease.” This means that business of the meeting is on pause…

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Don’t misuse Point of Personal Privilege

By Ann Macfarlane / February 5, 2020 / Comments Off on Don’t misuse Point of Personal Privilege

  A reader writes to say that in his city council, the members frequently say, “Point of Personal Privilege,” and then go on to give their opinion about something. This is wrong. Robert’s Rules of Order explains that in a meeting, members may raise a Point of General Privilege, or a Point of Personal Privilege.…

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Control disorder in your chambers

By Ann Macfarlane / October 22, 2019 / Comments Off on Control disorder in your chambers

Local governments face a tough climate these days. Customs of courtesy have faded and people are often both passionate and rude about their issues. If you are a mayor or presiding officer of a public body, it is critical that you control disorder in your chambers. Council meetings are meetings of the council The basic…

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Run better work meetings using Robert’s Rules

By Ann Macfarlane / October 16, 2019 /

A colleague asked for our best tips on leading committee meetings at work using Robert’s Rules. In general, Robert’s Rules don’t apply at work The first and obvious point is that work is not a venue where Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure apply. That system of meeting management is designed for assemblies—groups—where all members have…

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Do Robert’s Rules drive you crazy?

By Ann Macfarlane / October 10, 2019 / Comments Off on Do Robert’s Rules drive you crazy?

When I posted this question, Betsy Cawn of Lake County, California wrote a short and pungent response. Much appreciated, Betsy! Thanks to you, Ann, Robert’s Rules DO NOT drive me crazy — but unlearned colleagues who refuse to even discuss the abbreviated set of “simple guidelines” you provide certainly DO. Somewhere between the extreme formality…

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Sanctioning rogue board members

By Ann Macfarlane / July 19, 2019 /

In general, people who serve on nonprofit boards or in local government are peaceful and compliant. But every once in a while, you get a rogue board member. What can be done? We believe that it’s important for boards to be prepared to sanction rogue members when necessary. Download PDF This is an unpleasant subject.…

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The Outlier Syndrome in Governing Bodies

By Ann Macfarlane / June 26, 2019 / Comments Off on The Outlier Syndrome in Governing Bodies

Guest post by Tami A. Tanoue, CIRSA Executive Director Those who have been working with municipalities for an extended period have observed a phenomenon that occurs at the governing body level.  Let’s call this phenomenon the Outlier Syndrome.

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Danger Will Robinson! Public comment ahead!

By Ann Macfarlane / June 12, 2019 / Comments Off on Danger Will Robinson! Public comment ahead!

This post offers our readers a brilliant paper by municipal attorney Brett Vinson on the dangers of public comment. Anyone involved in receiving comment from the public during meetings will find it interesting and valuable. Read about the Nazi salute in Santa Cruz, singing a Whitney Houston song to express love for a councilmember, and…

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Using the Round Robin Method for efficient board meetings

By Ann Macfarlane / May 30, 2019 / Comments Off on Using the Round Robin Method for efficient board meetings

The simplest way to make board meetings more efficient is to use the Round Robin Method of discussion. In a round robin, each member of the body is given an opportunity to speak once before anyone may speak a second time, commonly by calling on the members around the table in turn. Sometimes, however, it’s…

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By Ann Macfarlane / April 25, 2019 / Comments Off on Enforcement

Guest post by Craig Freshley. We are big fans of Craig’s wisdom and are delighted to share this post with our readers. Visit Craig’s website for more superb tips on meetings and leadership. In principle, decisions without enforcement grow weak and eventually wither. When rules or policies are not enforced it causes confusion, resentment, and…

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