Book Review: Run, Don’t Walk, to Buy Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track

Ann Macfarlane, a Professional Registered Parliamentarian in Seattle who works with many local governments and is author of Mastering Council Meetings: A Guidebook for Elected Officials and Local Governments, published the following review of Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track on her website: Reader, I am over the moon about Jim Slaughter’s new book, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track. This brief, affordable and funny guidebook will give you the tools to apply Robert’s Rules immediately and effectively. Jim’s humor and focus kept me reading with enjoyment, underlining key phrases, and dotting the text with exclamation points. Jim starts the first chapter, … Continue reading

Is There a Difference between The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (“Sturgis”) and AIP’s Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure?

I recently posted that as a result of the new 12th Edition of Robert’s Rules, there are updated “cheat sheets” to the motions most often seen in meetings. On the Charts & Handouts Page of our firm’s parliamentary website are parliamentary motions guides to the most common parliamentary authorities, including Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition), The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, Fourth Edition (“Sturgis”), and the American Institute of Parliamentarian’s Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure. (Different types of organizations tend to use different parliamentary authorities.) That led someone to ask, “Is there a difference between The Standard Code of Parliamentary … Continue reading

Robert’s Rules of Order & Sturgis Motions “Cheat Sheets”

This year saw the publication of my two new books on proper meeting procedure, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track and Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition. With the publication of these books (based on the new 12th Edition of Robert’s), I’ve been asked if there are updated “cheat sheets” to the motions most often seen in meetings. The answer is “yes.” Parliamentary motions guides to the most used parliamentary authorities, including Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition), The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, Fourth Edition (“Sturgis”), and AIP’s Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, can all … Continue reading

Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition NOW AVAILABLE!

This summer I let you know about the release of Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track, a quick go-to guide that provides details on the most used motions, appropriate informal procedures for association boards, and general advice for shortening meetings. Pleased to say it was the #1 new release in its category on Amazon, as small a category as that might be. As a follow-up, the new Fifth Edition of Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules is now available! Regardless of your level of parliamentary experience, you’ll learn something new from Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition. The book complements Robert’s Rules of … Continue reading

ABA Journal Podcast on Meetings & Robert’s Rules

If you like podcasts, the American Bar Association Journal interviewed me this month for its ABA Journal Modern Law Library on “Sick of Meetings That Go Off the Rails? Robert’s Rules of Order Can Help.” The discussion covered everything from the importance of proper meeting procedure, board versus member meeting procedure, myths about meetings, minutes, parliamentarians, parliamentary organizations, and more. Depending on your preferred podcast platform, the episode can be found at: Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherOvercast Here’s the Modern Law Library website for the episode:

NC Bar Association Interview with Jim Slaughter

The NC Bar Association recently interviewed partner Jim Slaughter about association meetings, parliamentary procedure, Robert’s Rules of Order, and his two new books on meeting procedure. The article can be found in this month’s North Carolina Lawyer Magazine here:Parliamentary Procedure, Robert’s Rules, and Jim Slaughter: Award-Winning Author Discusses Two New Books and More. Jim is an attorney, Certified Professional Parliamentarian-Teacher, Professional Registered Parliamentarian,, and past President of the American College of Parliamentary Lawyers. He has written four books on meeting procedure, including Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track and Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fourth Edition (with a new Fifth … Continue reading

Update on Fifth Edition of Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules

Several readers on Amazon have sent me a message to the effect of, “I have your Robert’s Rules Of Order Fast Track, but can’t seem to find Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition, only the Fourth Edition for the last Robert’s. Where can I find the Fifth Edition?” First off, thanks for reading and for looking for the book! That’s gratifying to me as an author. Hope the books have been helpful. (As an aside, if you found the Fast Track guide helpful, please consider commenting or posting a review here, as that is how people find out … Continue reading

Why Is My Main Motion Not in Order? 

While there are numerous reasons why any motion may not be in order, I will attempt to give some guidance on why your main motion would not be in order at a meeting. Main motions are the most common motions, and are how business is done at meetings. You are likely very familiar with these motion, though you probably do not refer to these motions as “main motion.” Motions to have the organization take some action are main motions. For example, common main motions are “I move to adopt the budget,” “I move to adopt resolution 1,” “I move to … Continue reading

Should Meeting Minutes Include Names of Members in Attendance?

A question came up during a recent online discussion about whether the names of members attending a board meeting should be listed in the minutes, and perhaps even show what time the member arrived. Here’s not one, not two, but THREE answers! First, the good news is there’s no wrong answer. At the end of the day, the minutes are what the specific body within your organization decides by majority vote it wishes to have in its minutes. Different organizations have different style minutes. Second, if you follow (or try to follow) Robert’s Rules of Order there is no answer, … Continue reading

Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track

My newest book, Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track, is now available! My first book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Parliamentary Procedure Fast-Track (2012) has been very popular, and Penguin asked for a new edition of the book updated for the new Robert’s Rule of Order and to include a discussion of  virtual and electronic meetings. Proper meeting procedure is more important than ever—especially in these contentious times. With that in mind, the book also covers dealing with problem members and problem chairs. To better reflect its focus, the book has been renamed Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track: The … Continue reading

How to Avoid Yellow Card Hell

My parliamentary articles tend to be general. Most often, they address broad procedural issues of widespread concern. This one is rather specific, as it addresses a practice most often encountered by state affiliates of the National Education Association (NEA), although some other types of organizations have similar procedures. Different meetings have different methods of recognition, most often due to past practice or convention standing rules. The NEA and its state affiliate meetings have long used recognition cards for those wishing to speak. Unlike voting cards (described in Voting Cards at Conventions & Annual Meetings), recognition cards are different and explained … Continue reading

Is It Time for a Post-Pandemic Bylaws Review?

The following article from Mark Athitakis appeared on May 15, 2022 in Associations Now from the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). The full article can be found by clicking here. Is It Time for a Post-Pandemic Bylaws Review? Antiquated bylaws can lock associations into a structure that makes little sense today. One expert explains why now is a good time for a refresh. Among the many things the pandemic has exposed are problems with association bylaws. Meetings were upended and the makeup of membership changed, but an association’s governing documents haven’t always adapted to that new reality. “Some [associations] have … Continue reading

Happy Birthday to the Author of Robert’s Rules of Order

Today (May 2, 2022) is 185 years since the birth of Henry Martyn Robert, the author of the original Robert’s Rules of Order. He was born May 2, 1837, in Robertville, SC, served in the Union Army, and eventually rose to General in the Army Corps of Engineers. Robert’s first edition, published in 1876, was far different than today’s Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition) published by the Robert’s Rules Association. For starters, it was only 176 pages. Robert’s stated intent was to create a “very brief pocket manual, so cheap that every member of a church or … Continue reading

Voting Cards at Conventions & Annual Meetings

Although COVID-19 is (hopefully) waning, there are still concerns about immediately going back to the way things used to be done at annual meetings. For instance, the most common method pre-pandemic of voting during large meetings was by voice. On any matter to be decided, the presiding officer would ask all those in favor to say “AYE,” and those opposed to say “NO.” With continuing concerns about the virus, both leaders and health professionals have questioned whether hundreds or thousands of delegates should all be yelling in a crowded room at the same time, masked or not. There are alternatives … Continue reading

Completely Updated Parliamentary Procedure Website with Resources

For almost thirty years, my parliamentary procedure website has had more articles and resources on meeting procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order than most anywhere else online. In part due to the new Robert’s Rules of Order (released 2020), the site has been completely revamped and updated, with all references now to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition). The updated website includes: Dozens of charts and articles on running effective meetings, all revised to the new Robert’s 12th Edition. Guides/”cheat sheets” to the new Robert’s and other major parliamentary manuals, including The Standard Code. Tips on how smaller … Continue reading

Thoughts on Bylaws: Individual Amendments, Bylaws Revisions, and Best Practices on Amending Bylaws

There are usually three main governing documents that most nonprofit corporations have today—corporate articles, bylaws, and board policy. The corporate articles (or “articles of incorporation” or “corporate charter”) are a legal document filed with the state and should have only statutory requirements, such as name of organization, address, service agent, etc. That said, older articles sometimes have additional provisions, including ones touching on governance, such as who can serve as a director, board size, date of annual meeting, etc. If you are considering bylaws changes, make certain to get a copy of any corporate articles to make certain there are … Continue reading

What Is a President-Elect?

Because bylaws sometimes have a position called “President-Elect,” I am occasionally asked about the precise responsibilities of the office. A question back has to be “What responsibilities do the specific bylaws provide for the office?” That’s because there is no standard list of duties for a President-Elect in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, as there are for other officers. So different presidents-elect in different organizations may have different responsibilities based on the bylaws language creating the position. For organizations that follow Robert’s, a President-Elect position exists only if expressly provided for in the bylaws. The sole function of the … Continue reading

Robert’s Rules of Order vs The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure vs the AIP Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure

A question came up during a recent online discussion of pros and cons between Robert’s Rules of Order and The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure. One comment asked if Robert’s was “archaic and obsolete.” Here’s my answer. There are several major parliamentary manuals, with Robert’s Rules of Order being the best known. Robert’s Rules and parliamentary procedure are viewed as one and the same by most of the public. Of organizations that have a parliamentary authority in their governing documents, Robert’s is by far the most common choice (some surveys suggest 80%-90%) . State statutes that prescribe a parliamentary authority for some types of … Continue reading

New Appellate Case: Almason v. Southgate on Fairview Condominium Association

In a decision issued today (February 1, 2022), the North Carolina Court of Appeals examined several issues that associations deal with regularly—budget ratification, owner attendance at board meetings, rules governing board meetings, and association records requests. Nothing in the decision is groundbreaking, but the findings of the court may provide comfort that your association practices are proper (or may suggest you need to make some changes). Almason v. Southgate on Fairview Condominium Association, Inc. et al. is an “unpublished opinion,” which means the decision is not controlling legal authority and should not be cited in other cases. However, even unpublished … Continue reading

Voting by Written Ballot and Written Agreement in North Carolina

When it comes to asking homeowners association /  condo members to approve or reject matters in North Carolina, there are generally two options: the written ballot and the written agreement. These documents and legally dictated processes may look very similar, but they are legally distinct. This article examines how and when using the written ballot versus a written agreement makes sense and how to use each effectively. Written Ballot When you think about being asked to vote on something, most people probably first think of a ballot. Ballots, by definition, allow someone to vote for or against something. For in-person meetings, ballots … Continue reading