The use of simple parliamentary procedure, the rules for running a meeting, results in successful business meetings. Everyone has an opportunity to voice opinions and vote. Business gets done and the meetings are not long, boring and non-productive. One basic parliamentary tool is the use of the main motion, a method of introducing a topic, debating the topic and voting.

During the new business portion of a meeting, a member of the organization introduces an idea by making a main motion. The member addresses the president or chair. When recognized, the member states, "I move to ..." or "I move ..." For example, a member might say, "I move the club hold a car wash next Saturday at the Ace grocery store parking lot."

For the main motion to proceed, another member must second the motion by stating, "I second the motion." If there is no second, the motion dies for lack of interest.

The president restates the motion and opens debate. Usually the member who made the motion will want to speak first. A member should not speak again until everyone else has had an opportunity to speak.

When the debate has ended, the president calls for a vote. There are four ways to vote. A common method is the voice vote. The president asks for all members in favor of the motion to say "aye." Then all those opposed to the motion are asked to say "no." A rising vote is another voting method. Members in favor of the motion are asked to raise a hand or stand. Those voting no are then asked to show the same sign. If it is important to know how each member votes, a roll call vote is held. The name of each member is called and each member says "aye" or "no." In some cases, a secret ballot vote may be used.

A main motion requires a majority vote -- more than half of the members are in favor of the vote. If there is a tie, the president may make the deciding vote. Once the vote has been determined, the president announces the result of the voting. He taps the gavel once and moves on to another topic.


Remember to only discuss one topic at a time. Do not make negative main motions. For example, a motion should not read, "I move that we do not have a bake sale next week." More information about parliamentary procedure can be found in the book, "Robert's Rules of Orders".