A point of information is an incidental meeting motion that any member can raise while a main motion is in progress. It is used to ask for information from the board regarding the business at hand. This is a non-procedural question that can’t be debated and does not require a second. It helps members acquire the information necessary to make informed votes.
It is easy to confuse this motion as a means to offer more information on the topic instead of asking for it. That is why the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order now refers to it as a “request for information” instead.
Examples of points of information
Here are some examples of points of information raised while a motion is in progress:
- Asking about the property budget before voting on a motion to purchase new land.
- Enquiring about the marketing strategy before approving the launch of a new product.
- Requesting information on the timing of related decisions that can affect the business at hand.
Common misuses of a point of information
Here are some ways a point of information is often misused during board meetings:
- Stating facts
When a director asks for a point of information, they might state facts instead of asking a question. They may consider these to be relevant and important to consider before voting. However, this is not the function of a point of information.
- Expressing personal opinions
A point of information is not a means for members to express their personal opinions on the matter at hand. A member does not have the privilege to interrupt a speaker only to offer their point of view. If anyone has information to add to the topic, they can ask to be put on the speakers’ list.
- Asking irrelevant questions
The question asked after a point of information should be relevant to the topic being discussed. Asking any questions unrelated to the matter at hand or about a member’s conduct or character is a misuse of this motion.
- Enquiring about a member’s proposed course of action
A member cannot use a request for information to ask about another member’s personal feelings or proposed course of action on the matter. That information can lead to bias and weaken the decision-making process.
Procedure to ask for a point of information
The proper board meeting etiquette to ask for a point of information is as follows:
- A board member raises their hand and states, “I rise to a point of information” or “Point of information, please?”
- If another member is currently speaking, the chairperson asks if they are willing to be interrupted. If they are not, it is important to respect their decision and wait.
- The chair then asks the member for their question.
- The member asks the question by addressing the chair only.
- Either the chair or the speaker answers the question, or the chair directs the question to a suitable board member to respond.
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