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Discussions without a Motion


Guest ZakM

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I am a newly apointed chair of a group and I am having a problem with people bringing up topics without making a motion. This leads into debate/discussions that seems to go on forever. First question is can they do this or must one have a motion to start a debate/discussion and secondly if they can do it how do you ever stop the debate/discussion when you have no question to call? Thanks for the help.

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I am a newly apointed chair of a group ...

You are the chair.

It is your responsibility to ensure that a motion exists prior to discussion.

So, the primary fault is yours.

However, RONR does give a method whereby a discussion on a topic can occur first, with the expectation that from that discussion an adoptable motion will arise.

Secondly, if they can do it how do you ever stop the debate/discussion when you have no question to call?

Beware:

Once this discussion-method first motion is adopted, then the chair (YOU) won't have a legitimate way of stopping the discussion.

The assembly controls when IT wishes to halt ITS own debate.

It may never generate an adoptable motion. - It may just run out of gas, leaving empty echos, and nothing more, to commemorate the event.

Someone will have to make a motion to go on with the agenda, if they cannot generate anything adoptable after all this talk, talk, talk.

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You might try a little bit of education. Explain as briefly and pleasantly as possible that meetings are held to "get some stuff done" and there has been developed, over a century and some, a process to achieve that very efficiently so that everyone gets home at a decent hour. And touch on a few key points (motion, second, debate, vote, repeat as necessary, adjourn) and go from there.

Of course, if your group is aware of RONR and the basics of parliamentary procedure and still they just go on yapping 'cuz they really just want to belong to a social club, you may find this approach is not well met.

My .02:)

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I am a newly apointed chair of a group and I am having a problem with people bringing up topics without making a motion.

You might suggest that discussion can continue, ad nauseam, after the meeting has been adjourned. That way, members who have better things to do are free to leave, knowing that no more business will be transacted.

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First question is can they do this or must one have a motion to start a debate/discussion and secondly if they can do it how do you ever stop the debate/discussion when you have no question to call?

Some discussion is appropriate in small boards and committees (about 12 members or less) without a pending motion. (RONR, 10th ed., pg. 470, lines 31-32) In a larger assembly, however, if a member just starts to ramble on with no motion in sight, you should ask if the member intends to make a motion. If he does not, suggest that he wait until after the meeting (or until Comments for the Good of the Order/Open Forum, if you have something like that).

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