In Defense of Robert

In Defense of Robert’s Rules

Have you ever gone to a meeting and wondered why the officers were saying some weird sounding things? When there is an election, why do they ask for nominations three times for the same position? Well, they are not just being weird or trying to see if anyone is paying attention – they are following Robert’s Rules. So who’s this Robert guy?

Henry Martyn Robert was an engineer and an army officer. During his duties he was transferred around the country and found that many public meetings ended in chaos because everyone had different ideas of how they should be run. Robert decided to study parliamentary law and to write the definitive rules for how to run a meeting.

The Rules tell us how a meeting is called to order, how discussion proceeds, how elections are held and even how to adjourn the meeting. Phrases like “I move to….” and “I second the motion” etc. are taken directly from Robert’s Rules.

Most groups today follow Robert’s Rules of Order 11th edition. The rules are designed to handle virtually any issue that can occur in a meeting. The Rules keep the meeting running smoothly and ensure that minority voices are heard and that all members have the right to speak. The rules are followed strictly in most government bodies such as Congress. Next time you are at a meeting, I am sure you will hear some familiar phrases – try to google them and you’ll probably end up in Robert’s Rules of Order book somewhere.

Kim Jelinske, WPA Secretary

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