But the average person doesn’t have to know all this to be able to function effectively in most ordinary meetings, or even to chair one. At least 80 percent of the content of RONR will be needed less than 20 percent of the time.
For one who will brave it, RONR is written to serve as a self explanatory text that can be read through, with topics presented in an order that will best convey an overall understanding of the entire subject matter. You need not apologize, however, if you find that to be a bigger project than you would like to take on at this point.
If you are such a person, and want to know how to get by in a meeting or as a club president this brief book is for you.
The commonly needed basics of parliamentary procedure are well within the grasp of any person of ordinary schooling. By reading this book, you can learn them easily, step by step. For those to whom parliamentary procedure has seemed something of a mystery, this book should quickly bring that to an end.
It is important to understand, though, that this introductory book is not itself the rulebook. Only the complete Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised—RONR——is that. To keep to the framework of a simple guide, this book omits a great many rules, avoids certain subject areas altogether, and doesn’t get into many exceptions to the rules it does include. It is the rules in RONR that govern, and nothing in this book may be cited instead of or in conflict with RONR. To help ready reference to the complete rules, each subject covered here is cross-referenced to the pages of its fuller treatment in RONR. By reading this book you will learn how to find the additional rules in RONR if you need them.
Because this book is only an introduction and guide to RONR, it is not itself suitable for adoption by any organization as its “parliamentary authority”—the book of rules the group names to govern its meeting procedure. If any organization designates this book as its parliamentary authority, it actually adopts the current edition of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.
A prime value of parliamentary procedure is that it provides processes through which an organization, large or small, can work out satisfactory solutions to the greatest number of questions in the least amount of time. It can do this whatever detail or complexity may be involved. It makes meetings go smoothly when everyone is in agreement, and allows the group to come to decisions fairly when issues arc bitterly eontested. A chairman should never be stricter than is necessary for the good of the meeting. But, within that pattern, parliamentary procedure should normally be followed as a matter of course if it is to work well. It’s not something to look to only when you get into trouble, Robert’s Rules of Order has brought order to millions of meetings.
Yet it has more to offer us ifthe core of its content can penetrate more deeply into our culture. Every parliamentarian bas heard many stories of meeting participants finding themselves helpless in the face of badly ineptly—even unfairly—run meetings. All this need not be! Effective meetings could become the universal rule, fan elementary
knowledge of the accepted rules that govern then, were to become the common property of most people, as—for example—are the rules of baseball. The authors hope this brief book will play some part n bringing about that result. Now let’s start at the beginning, with what happens in a meeting.
This is the standard abbreviation par]iamertarians use to cite Henry M. Robert III and others, Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th ed. (Cambridge. Mass.: Perseus Publishing, 2000). The standard citation to paiticular pages aiid lines is ‘RONR (10th ed. [for edition’]), p [for page’ or ‘pages’], I. for line’ or lines].