The Importance of Board Meeting Rules

The board of directors is accountable for the management of a business. They make decisions and set policy. In most organizations, decisions must be made by an overwhelming majority vote of the entire board. Your board should have clear rules for meetings and guidelines to ensure a successful decision-making process.

The majority of boards adhere to Robert’s Rules of Order. This is an English parliamentary rulebook written by American General Henry M. Robert to prevent meetings from becoming chaotic. While the application of Robert’s Rules of Order may not be required for every board, the use of formal guidelines can create a structure that allows for fair debates during a virtual or hybrid meeting in which directors might be lost in the shuffle of faces displayed on a computer screen.

A key part of this is to ensure that the agenda is concise and clear and requires well-written board papers that are prepared and distributed prior to the meeting so directors are prepared to discuss them. It is also essential to limit the amount of time dedicated to reports and routine topics which can quickly drag the pace of a meeting.

Other meeting rules include limiting the number of instances a speaker can discuss the motion (two minutes) and ensuring that all participants are relevant to the subject to be discussed. If a particular motion is causing heated debate or creating tension, a motion to close discussion may be suggested with the approval of two-thirds. To avoid time-wasting, it is essential that everyone respects each other and does not undermine the other members’ motives or use snide language.

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