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Robert's Rules of Order for Small Boards

Robert's Rules of Order for Small Boards

A User's Guide for Chapters & Districts

For the majority of our chapters and districts within the Barbershop Harmony Society, a board meeting usually does not consist of more than twelve members. In Robert’s Rules of Order, it specifies that where there are not more than about a dozen members present, some of the formality that is necessary for a large assembly would hinder the business of these smaller groups. The rules governing such meetings are different from the rules that hold in other assemblies.

Robert’s Rules of Order is the standard manual used during a “parliamentary” meeting such as a board meeting. The Barbershop Harmony Society standard chapter & district bylaws, determine that Robert’s Rules of Order are the basis for facilitating meetings and business of the chapter or district.

With that said, we also recognize that the set of rules are extremely complex, and most individuals do not want to (nor should they) spend large amounts of time reading a boring set of text set in the 19th century.

Despite how few people have or should read the book, Robert’s Rules of Order is a standard basis for running effective meetings as a non-profit board of directors. If you’ve served on almost any board, you likely are familiar with the gist of it. At its most basic, it prevents individuals or groups of people to dominate a floor or topic of conversation but also permits equal opportunities for effective decision making as an entity.

In this guide, we provide some basic understandings of how to utilize Robert’s Rules of Order for your chapter or district. Specifically, we present the general approach to Robert’s Rules and then the Small Board approach to Robert’s Rules.

Also included in this guide, is a printable, general parliamentary “Cheat Sheet” reference for those who may need a refresher.


Keep in mind that our standard chapter bylaws or standard district bylaws may have additional rules of procedure beyond what is spelled out in Robert’s Rules of Order. It’s confusing to have rules in different places, but it’s important that each board member has a copy of these documents for their own reference and use.

Please visit the BHS Business & Finance Document Center to download the full guide, located under "Chapter and District Business Tools."

For all comments, questions, or concerns please feel free to contact the BHS Chapter Leadership & Education Team at or by calling 1-800-876-7464