In December members of the Louise Saks Parliamentary Unit met to continue their study of parliamentary procedure by working through a lesson originally presented by Michael Peck, PRP, at a National Association of Parliamentarians convention.

Entitled The Ten Best Time Savers in Robert’s Rules of Order the lesson outlined ways to shorten ordinary meetings by using consent agendas, voting by unanimous consent, committing or postponing definitely, and more.

For example, a consent agenda is a way to handle routine business that does not require debate.  Many meetings have such motions for regular business like approving ongoing bills or minutes or approving non-controversial license or other applications.  These items are grouped together and approved in one motion.  However, any item on the consent agenda may be removed from it to allow for discussion or questions.

Voting by unanimous consent is for non-controversial items or when it appears that there is general support for the motion on the floor.  In such case, the presiding officer can say, “If there is no objection (leave silence) the motion is approved by unanimous consent.”  Again, a member of the organization can during that silence can say, “I object.” and a voice vote will be taken.

Committing or referring an item to a committee can save meeting time especially when more information is required or when a smaller group can more easily debate the full implications of the business being proposed.

The same is true of postponing to a definite time.  Suppose it’s 9:30 in the evening and a motion has been introduced that while important it’s not time-limited, and it’s a controversial idea that needs clear thinking when all are fresh and relaxed.  Postponing the item to the next meeting may be a solution, especially if you postpone it to a definite time early in the meeting.  At least you’ll be finished by your usual 10:00 o’clock adjournment this month.

What have you seen that helps make meetings run smoothly AND save members’ valuable time?  The leaders suggested that all of us make our own lists of meeting time savers.  Now, that sounds like a coffee shop conversation!