If you want to be a pro, the next time you preside, use a script! Presenters Dot Martin and Diane Schrift, Professional Registered Parliamentarian, gave this advice during the educational lesson at the April 18 meeting. Both presenters spoke from personal experiences in large and small groups.
How do you write a script? Diane and Dot offered some practical tips:
Write down exactly what you will say, word for word. Follow the order of business from the agenda and find the right words. For new presiders this is especially important. Even if you’ve attended dozens of meetings you may not have noticed exactly what was being said. When you’re at the podium and your knees are knocking, simply read the words.
Say less rather than more. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised has the right words for every item of business. “Are there any corrections to the minutes?” is more succinct than: Well, you’ve heard/read the minutes. Weren’t they interesting? It’s hard to believe how Sally caught what was done but maybe you are seeing some errors. Now’s the time to fix them. What suggestions do you have?
Use a font you can read! It’s useful to have at least a space and a half between lines so you can take notes. And some people like to use only part of the page so there is plenty of room for making notes.
Write the script yourself. Or, in the case of a convention, a parliamentarian may create it. The advantage of doing the preparation is to engage you in a thorough consideration of what will happen or what may happen at a meeting.
Make copies of the script so the parliamentarian and the recording secretary have it and can follow the business easily.
Make scripts for other meeting participants. Everybody else who is involved in a meeting, especially a convention, needs right words and directions to do their parts well. The script can be a way to stage the meeting, deciding what microphones will be used and where people will stand. Let other meeting participants know when and where they need to be as well as giving them the right words.
For more details about writing scripts, check the National Association of Parliamentarians® online store on their website parliamentarians.org. There’s even an electronic version if you are writing many scripts.