One challenge that often confronts the presiding officer of a large meeting is how to handle unexpected motions, or – worse – complex situations like amendments to motions. Most community associations have only one or two owners meetings each year, so as president you don’t have a lot of opportunity to practice handling motions. Especially when several people are proposing amendments at the same time, things can become confusing. How can you handle motions professionally and easily?

Parliamentary Tip: Require members to make motions in writing. Even better, have simple motion forms available to save time. Ask members to write their motions and submit them to the chair in advance. The chair then reads them at the appropriate time (usually during “New Business on the agenda). Written motions have several advantages in a large meeting:

  • The chair and the secretary will have a record of the exact wording of the motion
  • The chair or the secretary can check the name of the person making the motion against the official roll of members, to make sure only members with voting rights make motions
  • Members have the opportunity to think through their motion and state it concisely when they must write it down
  • Particularly when someone wishes to amend – that is, propose a change to — a motion, writing down the amendment makes it much less likely that the chair and voting members will get confused about exactly what is being proposed and where you are in the voting process
  • Only a few motions are “in order” during a community association owners meeting, but owners don’t always understand that. Frequently owners may wish to make motions that are within the Board’s discretion to decide. Reviewing a written motion gives the chair the opportunity to decide how best to explain why the motion is not in order, and gracefully redirect the owner to raise their concern at the next Board meeting or owner comment period.

If you need assistance creating a written motion form, please contact one of our attorneys.

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