Home Blog Ann Guiberson Non-members Right to Speak at Board Meetings

Parliamentary Procedure Time

Non-members Right to Speak at Board Meetings

  The rules for nonmembers rights to speak in a meeting in an ordinary society, as opposed to a community organization such as a condominium or homeowners' board, are often misunderstood.

  A board of directors or a committee is usually entitled to determine whether nonmembers may attend or be excluded from their meetings, even when the meetings are not held in executive session. Private, nongovernmental bodies are not governed by sunshine laws which do apply to condo and homeowners associations. Sunshine laws are meant for public and semipublic bodies.  

  The confusion arises because the public may attend meetings of many public bodies, such as school boards, Many private organizations such as church councils, members may be permitted to attend, but this is a decision rather than a requirement of each specific group. These attendees are not members of the meeting body and ordinarily have no right to participate. Some groups may offer the opportunity for nonmembers to speak. This is done under the control of the presiding officer subject to any rules adopted by the body. Often, by rule or practice, time limits are placed on speakers and appropriateness and relevance of the comments permitted is closely monitored.

  So if you would like to speak at the next meeting of the board of directors of your organization, first, you must determine if members of the organization who are
not members of the board are allowed to speak.  If they are, find out what the rules are so you are prepared to stay within the guidelines. 

(Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition, page 96-97) 

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Ann Guiberson

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