TAKE 5: Workshops will cover meeting etiquette

Apr. 26, 2014 @ 05:03 AM

This week, we Take 5 with Nelson McCaskill, a 28-year veteran of N.C. Cooperative Extension, about parliamentary procedure. McCaskill will lead two workshops about the subject on Wednesday — one for youth from 4-6 p.m. and one for adults, titled “A Gavel Is More Than A Hammer,” from 7-9 p.m. Both will be held at the McSwain Extension Education and Agriculture Center. To register, call the Lee County Center at (919) 775-5624.

McCaskill worked as an extension agent for 25 years in Iredell County before taking a position last fall as the Mecklenburg County extension director. He has served as president of the N.C. Association of Extension 4-H Agents and as southern regional director for the National Association, and he has received the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) from the National Association in 1998. McCaskill, who grew up on a small farm in Moore County near West End, has a degree in agronomy from N.C. State University and an MBA from Gardner-Webb University.

What is parliamentary procedure, and why is it important to understand?

Parliamentary Procedure is the set of rules that guide most meetings in the United States. Many civic groups and other organizations use these rules to guide their decision-making process. Parliamentary procedure also is used by government groups from the local to national levels as they consider business and formulate the rules and laws that govern our society in the United States. It is important that our citizens understand the rules so they can participate in meetings and understand how our laws are formed.

How would you rate most leaders’ skills when it comes to the use of parliamentary procedure?

Most leaders have an understanding of the basic rules of parliamentary procedure and try to apply them fairly. It is important that the members understand the rules as well, so they can actively participate in group decisions.

What would you say are the most common violations?

Probably the most common mistake, especially in smaller groups, is to discuss an item of business at length and then make a motion about the topic. The motion should be made and seconded at the beginning so that everyone knows the specific topic being discussed. It can be amended as discussion progresses if changes are needed or to include more specific details or guidelines. Another area of confusion is handling the vote on amendments. I often see groups vote to pass an amendment and then move on to another topic as if passing the amendment was a vote on the main topic that was being discussed. The group should continue to discuss the motion as amended and then vote on the entire motion before moving on.

The workshops you’ll lead on April 30 … why should people attend? And what can participants expect?

People should attend one of these workshops to learn more about how meetings are conducted and how they can participate in meetings. We will cover basic rules and terms that are used during meetings. Understanding the specialized terms used in parliamentary procedure will help them to follow the process and to participate in decisions. We will also discuss real world situations and play a quiz game to wrap up the sessions.

How did you become interested in Parliamentary Procedure?

As a 4-H’er, I grew up using parliamentary procedure in 4-H meetings. I also saw it used in other local meetings. As I became an officer in various groups in high school and college, I wanted to run meetings correctly and studied it more. Now I want to help others understand parliamentary procedure so they can feel comfortable participating in meetings and understand what is going on when business is being discussed.