Parliamentary Procedure Cheat Sheet for 2015

The commercial and residential real estate attorneys at Elzufon Austin Tarlov and Mondell discuss the necessary steps to take regarding parliamentary procedures.\

It’s that time of year again. Planning your next 12 months is important to a successful year, so an annual meeting should be on the horizon. When it’s time for a homeowner or condominium membership meeting, remember that it may be difficult to have a free-form “conversation” with 50 or more members.  Instead, a more formal process is in order often known as parliamentary procedure.  Using parliamentary procedure in larger assemblies ensures that meeting formalities have been followed, which is important because a large group would likely have trouble reconvening in the event of procedural problems. The following steps will provide insight on holding a meeting specific to homeowner’s association-related factors.

  1. Establish a quorum. The minimum number of members who will be present at a meeting is an important starting point. Take measures such as contacting each member individually and setting up a reasonable meeting time that works with all parties.
  2. No member should speak without an introduction. Different groups allow members to be recognized in different ways. In membership meetings, a member will likely just stand up at his or her place. In other groups, a raised hand may be all that is necessary. It is important to be on the same page as it pertains to moving from person to person while discussing various topics. Establish the procedure that will be followed at the beginning of the meeting.  Then be sure to adhere to that procedure to avoid the perception of favoritism.
  3. Motions, not emotions. Formal procedure is focused on accomplishing things, not just discussing them. Using motions to introduce topics keeps it specific and keeps your meeting focused. The proposer of the motion should speak first. Once a motion is made and seconded, presiding officers should repeat the motion and immediately ask the maker if they would like to speak to their motion.
  4. Move through the agenda. Be sure to stick to the outline which you have prepared. The larger the group, the easier it is to get off-track and waste valuable time on unrelated matters. Remaining consistent with the agenda will allow the meeting to properly hit all points of the desired conversation.
  5. Keep minutes throughout. Minutes, or official record of actions taken at the meeting, are very important. First include the type of meeting, name of organization, date, time and location of meeting. Have a paragraph for each main motion/proposal including wording and disposition. Be sure to specify the exact wording of each proposal and whether or not it was adopted. There should be a final paragraph that states the time of adjournment.  At some point following the meeting (or at a subsequent meeting), the minutes are distributed to attendees for approval. Complete and accurate minutes will minimize any debate over what actually transpired and was or was not resolved at the meeting.

Annual meetings may touch on crucial points, so maintaining parliamentary procedures throughout is vital. By following these tips, you will have the ability to better facilitate your professional meeting. For more information on parliamentary procedures regarding homeowner’s association and condominium matters, contact a commercial and residential real estate attorney at Elzufon Austin Tarlov and Mondell.

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