Burrard Toastmasters
Vancouver's leading business-oriented public speaking club
Club Speeches

Procedures for Making, Debating and Passing a Motion

By Amy Johnson
Document Source: Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised, In Brief, 2004

Download PDF version

Member A: (stands) “Madam President!"

Chair: “Member A”

Member A: “I move that the club increase dues to $104 to cover the cost of increased
dues from Toastmasters International” (sit)

Another Member: (seated) “Second”

Chair: It is moved and seconded that the club increase dues to $104 to cover the cost of increased dues from Toastmasters International.

The motion then goes for debate/discussion. Member A is usually the first to stand and provide points for why the club should adopt the motion.

Member A: (stands) “Madam President!”

Chair: “Member A”

Member A: (while standing - explain why we need to increase dues i.e. Toastmasters
International has increased dues by $9 US and we need to offset the costs. We have
calculated a $14 increase to account for the exchange rate,,,,) Sit when finished

Member B: (stands) “Madam President”

Chair: “Member B”

Member B: offers point for discussion

This procedure continues until no one else seeks recognition to debate and then the Chair puts the motion to question. The important thing to remember is the need to stand and be recognized by the chair before speaking, and to sit when finished.

Chair: “Are you ready for the question?” (If no one seeks recognition to debate then….

Chair: “The question is on the adoption of the motion that the club increase dues to $104 to cover the cost of increased dues from Toastmasters International. Those in favour of the motion, raise your hands….

After the vote

Chair: The ayes have it and the motion is adopted. The club will increase semi-annual
dues to $104 to cover the cost of increased dues from Toastmasters International


The no’s have it and the motion is lost.


Suppose that in the middle of a debate on a main motion it appears as though it would
be best suited to put off taking a vote. Perhaps more information is needed, or it is not
urgent and there is other business that needs to be covered. The motion to Postpone to a Certain Time is used.

Member A: I move to postpone the motion until the next meeting.

In the ordinary circumstance, you cannot postpone a motion beyond the next regular
meeting and not beyond the third month after the present month. (i.e. in February a
motion can’t be postponed later than May.)

This can then be debated, but you may not debate the main motion itself, and then voted on.

Amending a motion

An amendment can be made to a motion should you believe there needs to be some
modification of the wording and, within limits, often the meaning of the motion.
Amendments should say exactly where in the main motion the change is to be made,
and precisely what words to use.

The vote on the amendment does not decide whether the main motion will be adopted,
only whether the wording in the main motion will be changed. After an amendment is
adopted, the main motion as amended may be further debated and even further
amended. In the end, a vote is taken on the main motion as amended.

The main motion is: That the club hosts the upcoming area contest on October 19

You want the motion to read: That the club hosts the upcoming area contest on
October 26.

Member A: (stands) Madam President!

Chair: Member A

Member A: (still standing) I move to strike out the words October 19 and insert the words October 26. (sits)

Member B: Second!

Chair: It is moved and seconded to strike out the words October 19 and insert the words October 26. If the amendment is adopted the motion will read: That the club hosts the upcoming area contest on October 26. The question is on striking out the words October 19 and inserting the words October 26.

Then the debate and vote follows as with a main motion. Remember this is only to adopt the new wording. Once adopted or lost the debate and vote on the main motion still needs to occur.

Reconsidering a Motion

If a motion has been either adopted or defeated during a meeting and at least one
member who voted on the winning side wants to have the vote reconsidered, such a
member may make a motion to reconsider. If the motion was adopted the motion to
Reconsider can only be made by someone who voted for the motion, or if defeated then
by a member who voted against it. 

There is a time period in which a motion can be reconsidered - this motion can only be
made on the same day the original vote was taken.

If the motion to host the area contest was not carried:

Member A: Madam President, I move to reconsider the vote on the motion relating to the hosting of the area contest. I voted against that motion.

If seconded the chair will then state the question on your motion (Unless another motion is pending at the time) and the assembly will proceed to consider the question of whether or not the motion regarding the area contest should be reconsidered. After any debate the vote will be taken on whether to reconsider, and if adopted the motion to host the area contest will then be debated and voted on again.

Rescind or Amend a Motion Previously Adopted

If after a meeting is over (too late to reconsider) you feel the wrong decision was made, you may make a motion to rescind.

Member A: I move to rescind the motion relating to the area contest that was adopted at the meeting on Wednesday September 24.

Alternatively, if you are concerned only with the date of the area contest you may make a motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted.

Member A: I move to amend the authorization previously adopted by changing the date
to October 12.

You may make either of these motions regardless of how you voted on the original
motion, and there is no time limit on making either of them.

Other Motions

To Lay on the Table “I move to lay the motion on the table” To enable an
assembly, by majority vote and without debate, to lay a pending question aside
temporarily to take up something else of immediate urgency. This is rarely needed.

To Postpone to a certain time “I move to postpone the motion to the next
If in the middle of a debate on a main motion and you want to put off taking a vote on it (more information is needed, there are other urgent matters to be covered,
etc.) If adopted by a majority vote, it puts off further consideration of the main motion to a later time or meeting named in the motion.

Previous Question “I move the previous question.” The motion to close debate
immediately is called the motion for the Previous Question. This requires a two-thirds
vote and is undebatable. Because it closes debate and brings the assembly to an
immediate vote it is commonly used in meetings. In order to move the Previous Question
a member must receive recognition from the chair. The motion must be seconded and
then adopted by two-thirds vote; if adopted the Main Motion will then be voted on

Commit or Refer “I move that the motion be referred to a committee of seven,
the chairman to be Ms. A, with six additional members to be appointed by the
president, and to instruct the committee to report at the August meeting.”

Before voting on a main motion you may feel that it would profit from redrafting or further study by a small group of people (in cases of more information needed or that it would take too much time to amend the motion properly). This turns the motion over to a committee for study or redrafting before the group considers it further. This requires a majority vote, and should identify the committee to which the motion is to be referred. It may include instructions to the committee, such as when to report back or to propose an amendment written to accomplish a particular purpose. This motion is amenable and debatable.

Point of Order “Point of order!” The chair has the duty of making sure that the rules
are followed. Any member may call attention of the chair to a violation of the rules. To do so, stand, interrupt the chair or speaker and without waiting to be recognized say “Point of order!” Anyone speaking takes a seat and the chair says “The member will state her/his point of order.” You then tell how you think the rules are being broken, and sit down. No second is necessary and no vote is taken, instead the chair stands and rules on the point of order “The Chair rules that the point of order is/is not well taken”, briefly giving reasons.

Appeal “I appeal from the decision of the chair.” The group as a whole is the final
authority in judging whether the rules have been violated. If you disagree with a ruling by the chair, you may Appeal it to the group as a whole. Without waiting to be recognized, stand and say “I appeal from the decision of the chair.” An appeal requires a second. An appeal may be debated but each member may speak only once. The chair may speak twice, the first in preference over other members and the second to close debate. An appeal is stated and put to vote as “Shall the decision of the chair be sustained?” It requires a majority vote in the negative to overturn the chairs ruling – a tie sustains the decision of the chair.

Parliamentary Inquiry “A parliamentary inquiry please.” If you want to ask a
question about the rules and how they apply to what is going on or to something you
want to do, you may make a Parliamentary Inquiry of the chair. If, and only if, your
question requires immediate attention, you may interrupt a speaker to ask it. You do not have to be recognized (like in a point of order.) You stand and say “A parliamentary
inquiry please.”
The chair replies, “The member will state the inquiry,” and you say, for
example “Is it in order at this time to move to refer to a committee?” or “What is the
pending question?”

The chair has the duty of responding to such questions when the answer may assist you to make an appropriate motion, raise a proper point of order, or understand the
parliamentary situation or the effect of a motion. However, the chair’s answers are not
rulings and consequently are not subject to appeal. If you believe the chair’s response is wrong and want a chance to ask the full group to correct it, you must act contrary to the opinion expressed by the chair. Upon that action being ruled out of order, you may then appeal.


Words to Use as a Member

To Speak in a Meeting
(Seek Recognition to Speak)

Member A Madam President.
Chair Mr. A
Member A Say what you have to say, then sit when

To Make a Motion

After being recognized to speak

I move that...

To Second a Motion

Remaining seated, without seeking


To Make Particular Motions

After being recognized by the chair to speak


I move to adjourn.


I move to amend:
By striking out “blacktop” before “driveway”
By inserting “in the meadow” after “building”
By striking out “concrete” and inserting
By striking out the third paragraph
By inserting the following paragraph on page 6 after line 5: …
By substituting for the pending motion the following
Commit or Refer I move to refer the motion to
Example: a committee of three to be appointed by the chair
Count Vote I move that the vote be counted
Debate, Close Immediately I move the previous question
Debate, Limit or Extend Limits of I move that debate be limited to
Example: one speech of three minutes for each member.
Postpone to a Certain Time I move to postpone the question
Example: to the next meeting
Previous Question I move the previous question
Recess I move to recess for five minutes
Suspend the Rules I move to suspend the rules and….

Without Needing to be Recognized By the Chair to Speak

Appeal (stand) I appeal from the decision of the chair.
Demand a Rising Vote (need not stand)


Parliamentary Inquiry (Stand) Member: A parliamentary inquiry, please
Chair: The member will state his/her
Member: (Example) Is a motion to adjourn
now in order?
Point of Information (stand) Member: Mr. President, I rise to a point
of information

Chair: The member will state his/her point.
Member: (Example) The motion calls for a
lot of money to be spent. Will the treasurer tell us how much money the Society has in the bank?
Point of Order (stand) Member: Point of order!
Chair: The member will state his/her point
of order
Member: I make the point of order that….

Read other educational speeches