What are Meeting motions?

Meeting motions

A meeting motion is a proposal extended in a company meeting, typically to bring attention to an aspect of business matters. It is presented as a formal suggestion to the meeting members with another member seconding the motion before a discussion on the subject and vote on whether to accept or reject the proposal.

The result of a motion is recorded in the meeting minutes as an official decision. The rules set in place to handle and vote on motions differ depending on the organisation’s bylaws.

Types of meeting motions

There are four types of motions used in meetings:

  • Main motions

    A main motion is used to present business matters to the meeting members. You can only move on to another main motion once the previous motion has been approved, rejected or adjourned.
  • Subsidiary motions

    A subsidiary motion is not a motion by itself but exists in relation to a main motion. These motions can only be presented after the main motion but should be voted on before a decision is made on its associated main motion.
  • Privileged motions

    A privileged motion takes precedence over other motions in a meeting. This means that other motions can be interrupted by urgent privileged motions, including moving to return to the agenda when discussion has diverted off topic, moving to share additional information, moving to enforce the rules and other similar points.
  • Incidental motions

    An incidental motion takes precedence over main and subsidiary motions but it should be voted on after a privileged motion. Incidental motions are used to question the procedures regarding other meeting motions.

Methods of voting on a motion

According to Robert’s Rules of Order, five methods can be used to vote on a meeting motion:

  • Show of hands: This method involves raising your hand to indicate a yes and holding it until the board chair has finished counting.
  • Adopt by consensus: A motion can be adopted by unanimous consent without requiring a yes/no vote if no one has an issue with it.
  • Voice vote: A simple audible aye or nay is required to conduct a voice vote. A decision is made by simply assessing which response is stronger.
  • Roll call vote: This voting method can only be used if a member specifically requests it. The board secretary will read the names alphabetically and each member must say an aye or a nay when called.
  • Secret ballot: In this method, votes are cast in secret.

Commonly used motions in meetings

Common meeting motions include:

  • Motion to adjourn

    The motion to adjourn is a formal procedure used to end a meeting. In case there is unfinished business, it can be put on hold until the next meeting.
  • Motion to table

    This motion is used to retire the current matter of discussion without any debate or voting.
  • Motion to amend

    A motion to amend is presented if any additions or changes need to be made to an original motion. It must be voted for by a majority.

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