Rules of Order for Board Meetings

Board members will use the following Rules of Order during Board Meetings of the National Speakers Associations:

Obtain The Floor

In order to speak at a Board meeting, a Board member (or guest) must first obtain the floor (i.e., obtain the right to speak) from the presiding officer.

  • To obtain the floor, raise your hand (you do not need to stand to obtain the floor).
  • The presiding officer will call upon you (or put you in the queue) to speak.
  • When it is your turn, speak as precisely and as succinctly as possible.


Make A Motion/Second A Motion

Any Board member can make a motion and any Board member can second a motion.

  • A motion is a formal way to propose something on which the entire Board should vote.
  • To make a motion, you would state, “I propose that…“ or “I move that…” and clearly state what is to be considered.
  • If there is no second to the motion, the motion fails.
  • You cannot second your own motion.
  • Once there is a second to the motion, discussion can occur.
  • Motions are adopted by a majority vote unless otherwise noted.

Amend A Motion

Any Board member can amend a motion under discussion.

  • An amendment is a motion to change the original or pending motion, typically by changing, adding or omitting words. These proposed changes should be made to clarify or improve the original motion.
  • An amendment to a motion must be seconded. If not, then the amendment fails.
  • Once there is a second to the amendment, discussion can occur.
  • The discussion should focus on the amendment and not the original motion.
  • Amendments are adopted by a majority vote, even if the motion to be amended requires a two-third vote to be adopted.
  • If an amendment is passed, discussion and debate returns to the original motion (if someone still wishes to speak to that) and then to the amended motion.
  • If an amendment is defeated, another amendment may be offered, seconded, and debated. The same rules to amend a motion would apply.

Amend An Amendment/Substitute Motion

Any Board member can amend an amendment under discussion or offer a Substitute Motion.

  • An amendment to an amendment is a motion to change, add, or omit words to or from the first amendment.
  • The rules to amend a motion apply, except that the amendment to an amendment, in and of itself, cannot be amended. So it helps to be very precise in your amendment to an amendment.
  • The amendment to an amendment takes precedence over the first amendment.
  • Only one amendment to an amendment is allowed.
  • If the original motion is worded poorly and several amendments are being presented to get the wording right, a Board member can make a Substitute Motion rather than trying to solve the wording problem.
  • A Substitute Motion asks that a Board member (or a small group of two to three Board members) prepare a substitute wording for the original motion. If there is unanimous agreement of the Board, then the original motion (together with any amendments passed or pending) is withdrawn and the substitute motion is brought forward to the Board.

Move The Question

Any Board member can make a motion that calls for the end of a discussion.

  • To move the question (i.e., call for an end to a discussion), raise your hand to obtain the floor. The presiding office will call upon you (or put you into the queue) to speak.
  • When it is your turn to speak, you state, “I move the question.”
  • A motion to move the question requires a second. If there is no second, the motion fails.
  • If the motion is seconded, there is no debate and the motion moves immediately to a vote.
  • A two-thirds majority is needed to pass a motion to move the question.
  • Contrary to popular belief, saying “I call the question!” or “Call the question” or “Question” does not mean that the discussion is immediately halted and moved to a vote. The presiding officer must first recognize you in order for you to make your motion. If it is seconded, it goes to an immediate vote, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass.
  • If the motion to move the question passes, the Board members then vote on the motion on the floor. Typically, the presiding officer will re-state the motion that needs to be voted upon.
  • If the motion to move the question does not pass, discussion can continue on the motion on the floor.

Move To Reconsider

Any Board member, in the following specific situation, can make a motion to reconsider his or her vote (or even the motion itself).

  • A motion to reconsider can be made only by one of the members on the prevailing side who has changed his or her position or view.
  • To make a motion to reconsider, a Board member on the prevailing side must first obtain the floor.
  • A motion to reconsider requires a second, is debatable, is amendable and needs a majority vote to pass.
  • A motion to reconsider typically occurs right after the original vote on a motion.

Move To Rescind

Any Board member can make a motion to cancel a previous action of the Board of Directors.

  • To make a motion to rescind a previous action of the Board, you must first obtain the floor.
  • A motion to rescind needs a second and is debatable. It can be amended and needs a two-thirds majority to pass or a majority if prior notice has been given.

Move To Executive Session

Any Board Member can make a motion to go into a private session.

  • A motion to move into an executive session is used to address sensitive issues and to protect against publicly airing sensitive information.
  • To make a motion to go into executive session or “in camera” (from the Latin term meaning “in chambers”), you must first obtain the floor.
  • A motion to move to executive session requires a second, is debatable, is amendable and needs a majority vote to pass.
  • If passed, all individuals who are not essential to the matter to be considered will be asked to leave to ensure privacy, security and confidentiality.
  • Votes can be taken while in executive session.
  • Proceedings in an executive session are secret, but are not restricted in any other way.
  • If, while in executive session, Board members decide that secrecy should be lifted from a decision, then the secretary records the decision in the “public” minutes.
  • The Board minutes will note when the Board went into an executive session and when they returned.

Move To Adjourn

Any Board member can make a motion to end the meeting.

  • A motion to adjourn needs to be seconded.
  • It is not debatable.
  • It is immediately voted upon and requires a majority to pass.

Point of Order

Any Board member can raise a point of order if he or she thinks that the rules of the Board or the Association are being violated or not followed.

  • To raise a question of order, you call out “Point of Order.” You do not need to obtain the floor nor do you need a second to raise a point of order. It is not amendable and it is not debatable.
  • Your question or point of order should be directed to the presiding officer of whom you ask for a ruling or enforcement of rules.
  • If the ruling is thought to be wrong, the presiding officer can be challenged.

Point of Information

Any Board member can ask for additional information about a specific question, the content of a motion, or the process.

  • To raise a point of information, you call out “Point of Information.” You do not need to obtain the floor nor do you need a second to raise a point of information. It is not amendable and it is not debatable.
  • A point of information asks for clarification. That’s it.
  • A point of information does not give a Board member the privilege of providing information; for that, you must first obtain the floor.

Point of Privilege

Any Board member can raise a point of personal privilege.

  • To raise a point of privilege, you call out “Point of Privilege” or “Privilege.” You do not need to obtain the floor nor do you need a second to raise a point of privilege. It is not amendable and it is not debatable.
  • A point of privilege refers to questions or concerns about personal comfort and distractions (such as noise levels, temperature in the room, bathroom breaks).

Additional Motions To Consider

Here are a few more types of motions that Board members might use during the Board Meetings of the National Speakers Association:

  • Move To Lay On Table…temporarily suspends discussion, with the intent to return to the discussion at a later point in the meeting. After obtaining the floor, you can make this motion. This type of motion needs to be seconded, is not debatable, cannot be amended, and requires a two-thirds vote to pass.
  • Move To Divide The Question…divides a motion into a series of separate motions. After obtaining the floor, you can make this motion. This type of motion needs to be seconded, is not debatable, can be amended, and requires a majority vote to pass.
  • Move To Refer…moves the question or motion to a committee for consideration, more work, or further clarification. After obtaining the floor, you can make this motion. This type of motion needs to be seconded, is debatable, can be amended, and requires a majority vote to pass.

When In Doubt, We Will Use Robert’s Rules of Order.