The main function of a board of managers is to make decisions. According to Robert’s Rules of Order, “To begin the process of making any decision, a member offers a proposal by making a motion. A motion is a formal proposal by a member, in a meeting, that the group take certain action.”
To make a motion, obtain the floor by having the chair recognize you, then simply say, “I move that…” and clearly state your proposal. For example, “I move that the Ways & Means committee use the ACME company for the main fundraiser of the year 2005-2006.” The group will vote on the exact wording of the motion, not the idea, so it is very important to state exactly what the words of the motion are to be. It’s a good idea to write down beforehand the exact wording of the motion, and read the motion at the meeting. You can also give the secretary the exact wording in writing to make his/her job easier and to make sure the wording is correctly recorded in the minutes. Always write out a long or complex motion for the secretary and president.
Be seated after making a motion. Wait until discussion on the motion takes place to explain your position on the motion.
A motion must be seconded in order to be considered by the group. This shows that at least two people want the proposal to be considered–it does not necessarily mean that the seconder agrees with the motion. To second a motion, a person does not need to stand, but simply calls out, “Second!”
Note: If a motion is a proposal that comes from a committee, it does not need to be seconded, because the fact that it comes from a committee shows that more than one person wants the proposal to be heard. In this case, the person making the motion would say, “The Ways & Means Committee moves that…”, followed by the chair saying,“Since the motion comes from committee, it does not need to be seconded.”
Once a motion has been made and seconded, the chair should repeat the exact wording of the motion, or the question at hand.
Once a motion has been restated by the chair, it is “on the floor”, meaning that it is open for discussion. The chair usually recognizes the person who made the motion, to give his/her reasons why the motion should be passed. Other members may then be given the floor by the chair to discuss the motion. Discussion or debate must be related to the motion, and not about personalities. If the chair wishes, a time limit may be given to each speaker at the beginning of the debate.
When no one else wishes to speak to the motion, the chair may call for the question by saying, “Are you ready for the question?” This is simply asking if everyone in the group is ready to vote on the motion. The chair should then repeat the exact wording of the motion, followed by, “Those in favor of the motion, say aye.” And then, “Those opposed to the motion, say no.” (If a voice vote is to be taken.) Most motions take a majority to pass.
The chair then judges whether the majority voted aye or no, and announces the result of the vote by saying, “The ayes have it, the motion is adopted.” Or, “The noes have it, the motion is lost.”
Put simply, the steps to making a motion are:
Member A: “I move that we use the ACME company for the main fundraiser of the year 2005-2006.”
Another member: “Second!”
Chair: “It is moved and seconded that we use the ACME company for the main fundraiser of the year 2005-2006.” The chair recognizes member A.
Member A: Member A must give reasons that will convince the group that passing the motion is in the best interest of the group.
Other members may now speak in support or against the motion, after being recognized by the chair.
Chair: “Are you ready for the question?”
Chair: “The question is on the adoption of the motion that we use the ACME company for the main fundraiser of the year 2005-2006.”
Chair: “All in favor of the motion, say aye.” “All opposed to the motion, say no.”
Chair: “The ayes have it, the motion is adopted.”
Resource: Robert’s Rules of Order
Please refer to Robert’s Rules of Order for more in-depth information on Parliamentary Procedure.