Roberts Rules of Order: When A Member Can Interrupt A Speaker


An earlier Members United post discussed attending the GHI Annual Meeting on May 9, 2019.  The post mentioned that the meeting will be run using Roberts Rules of Order and noted that a parliamentarian, who is an expert in Roberts Rules of Order, will also be at the meeting.  Finally, a link (see below) to more information about Roberts Rules of Order was also provided:

In this post, we will take a closer look at some of the motions that members can make by  interrupting a speaker, rather than having to wait to be recognized.  These motions do not require a second, nor are they debatable.  In some cases, the Chair of the meeting decides what action is taken next.  For a Point of Inquiry, the inquiry is answered.  In other situations, a majority or two-thirds vote decides what happens.  A brief discussion of each of these procedures follows.

Point of Personal Privilege

Example: The noise outside the meeting has become so great that you are having trouble hearing, or the temperature in the room is uncomfortable, or some other concern. You may interrupt the speaker.
• Without recognition from the Chair, you say  “Point of personal privilege.”
• Chair: “State your point.”
• Member: “There is too much noise, I can’t hear.”

The Chair decides what action is taken.

Point of Order

If it is obvious that the meeting is not following proper rules. For example, a motion is passed without the right kind of vote, or a member is breaking the rules of debate. You may interrupt the speaker.

  • Without recognition, you say, “I rise to a point of order,” or “Point of order.”
  • Chair: “State your point.”
  • After you explain why you called a Point of Order, the Chair decides how to proceed.  As we will have a Parliamentarian at the Annual Meeting, the Chair may confer with the Parliamentarian.

Point of Inquiry

You are wondering about some of the facts under discussion, such as the balance of a particular item in the budget.  You may interrupt the speaker.

  • Without recognition, you say, “Point of inquiry.”
  • Chair: “State your point.”
  • You ask your question and your question is answered.

Call for Division

You want to verify a voice vote by actual count (before the next motion).  You may interrupt the speaker.

  • You say, “I call for division.”
  • Your call is voted on and decided by a majority vote.

Preventing a Body from Considering a Question

You want to prevent the body from considering a question. You may interrupt the speaker.

  • You say, “I object to considering this question.”
  • A vote is taken and decided by a two-thirds vote.

Other Tips

Most motions do require you to be recognized by the Chair, and once made, are subject to debate.  Often another member will want to amend the motion on the floor.  It may be to suggest a wording change or it may be more substantive.  Whether to accept a proposed amendment will require a vote before the main motion can be voted on. Sometimes members will make a motion to amend an amendment.  To someone not familiar with Roberts Rules of Order, what you are voting on can quickly become very confusing.  Print off one of the free cheat sheets available online, and bring it with you to the meeting, so you can follow the action.

At the very least if you can’t hear, or the room temperature is too cold or warm, you now know how to get some relief!



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