Following parliamentary procedure makes meetings more productive

LETTER — Posted Sept. 11, 2006

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Regarding "Becoming a meetings maestro: Dispensing information and boosting morale" (Article, Aug, 7): Multiple meetings can be considered a necessary evil of modern society. Your article describes some of the issues and solutions to encourage attendance and participation.

But not enough emphasis is placed on making the meeting productive. If physicians and staff feel that a meeting is productive (issues discussed, action plans developed), not only are the members of the group more likely to attend without incentives or penalties, they are more likely to bring a "participatory" attitude.

Your article identified two key elements for productivity: an agenda and dissemination of information prior to the meeting. But the third key element, indirectly alluded to by one physician interviewed for the article, is a basic understanding of parliamentary procedure.

Unfortunately, parliamentary procedure is perceived as a complex subject that is used as a weapon by which individuals can implement their own agenda. The reality is that parliamentary procedure is a very effective tool that has evolved over many centuries, continues to respond to change and has the fundamental goals of a fair and efficient meeting.

It is not necessary to become a full-fledged parliamentarian, but some basic knowledge of parliamentary procedure makes everybody's life, especially the chair's, much easier.

There are several sources of information on the Web, educational conferences, as well as a variety of publications, from a very basic ABC to the definitive references of Robert's Rules of Order (10th edition) or The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (Sturgis).

Richard M. Flowerdew, MD, Falmouth, Maine

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2006/09/11/edlt0911.htm.

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