Far too often the beautiful Robert’s Rule is misused during a Board meeting and used to abuse a speaker. Often, it is because of a misunderstanding of parliamentary procedure but sometimes it is to further individual agendas. The Rules of Parliamentary Procedure are put in place to protect meeting participant’s rights and to assist moving business along. But when those rules are misused or abused, these rules can hinder and delay business; ultimately placing corporate action at a standstill to the detriment of not only the Board but the members the Board is elected to serve.

Fortunately, Robert’s Rules says that any board member during a board meeting and any member during a member meeting who notices a breach of the rules has a right to call immediate attention to the fact and insist that the rules be enforced by raising a point of order. The catch: calling out a point of order it means you had better be able to point out the broken rule to the Chair; otherwise you are out of order.

So, how does one properly use this resourceful rule artfully? If you notice a breach of the rules, especially if that breach infringes on members’ rights, Robert’s says to quickly rise, even if it means interrupting the speaker. Then state: “Point of order, Madam/Mister Chair/President!” or “Madam/Mister President, I rise to a point of order!”

Do not leave your point of order hanging. As soon as you are recognized, state the reasons why you think the Cooperative’s policies and rules are not being followed correctly. If you are correct, the Chair/President is to either recognize the validity of your point and go back to following the rules or the Chair/President should advise you that such rule is not violated and go back to the meeting.

The Chair/President’s duty is to make a decision, called a ruling, on your point of order. He/She may need to check the rules or the bylaws, or, some instances he/she will ask the parliamentarian for advice. Robert’s Rules states that a point of order will be ruled on in one of two ways: the point is declared either “Well-taken,” or “Not well-taken,” and a short explanation of the ruling is given. Do not use this rule to interrupt a speaker if you cannot point to a breach in the rules. Do that and you will be in breach of the rules and you will lose credibility.