Why You Should Hire a Professional Parliamentarian for Your Annual Meeting – Part 2Last week’s post was intended to make you think. . . . Think about getting professional help from a Robert’s Rules of Order guru instead of winging it. Think about securing the real deal to run (or help you run) the dreaded annual meeting. Think about hiring someone who can make you look good and save you a ton of time. Here are three more relevant issues as you consider consulting with a professional parliamentarian.

A Professional Parliamentarian Can Keep You Out of Trouble.

Like I stated in my second point last week, professional parliamentarians have participated in more meetings than most people will ever attend—or ever want to attend—in a lifetime. We can look at an agenda and tell you where the trouble spots will be. We know where elections can tend to go awry, and we know what problems bylaw amendments can cause.

Odds are, we’ve experienced whatever your trouble is multiple times before. A professional can help you anticipate mess and hopefully avoid it.

A Professional Parliamentarian Can Be a Resource for Members.

Every organization has a few (sometimes vocal) members with extra questions and strong opinions. These people should not be allowed to “run the show,” but neither should they be marginalized. Finding that balance can often be a full-time job for the officers and board. Also, it’s wearisome.

Professional parliamentarians definitely have an advantage on this one. We’re hired as neutral experts on the rules, and we don’t have any personal history with the highly opinionated question-askers in your group. In fact, we’ll be happy to take the non-fun job of listening to them and answering their questions. You’d be surprised how far this effort will go in helping them feel heard and guiding them as to the right time, place, and way to state their opinions. Trust me—having a professional parliamentarian play that role can save you a lot of headaches.

But What About the Cost of a Professional Parliamentarian?

Good question. Here’s a simple answer on the fees for this line of work. For one, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Like any professional service, the scope of the work can vary, as can the fee arrangement. For example, you might need help with a specific question, an agenda, or a simple script. Alternatively, you might need someone to draft an extremely detailed script or be on-site for the meeting or for several days prior.

An experienced professional parliamentarian can help you discern group issues and the best use of your organization’s funds. You certainly can’t go wrong by thinking seriously about hiring a professional and reaching out to discuss your needs.

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Photo of Sarah E. Merkle Sarah E. Merkle

Sarah E. Merkle is a professional and a driven achiever, but a helpful one. Her legal work dovetails neatly with her unique avocation—sharing parliamentary procedure with those who need help navigating the sometimes crazy world of organizational governance and meetings. She’s one of…

Sarah E. Merkle is a professional and a driven achiever, but a helpful one. Her legal work dovetails neatly with her unique avocation—sharing parliamentary procedure with those who need help navigating the sometimes crazy world of organizational governance and meetings. She’s one of only five lawyers in the world to have earned the two highest parliamentarian certifications. For nearly 15 years she has used her expertise to help local, regional, and national clients make decisions that honor the law but efficiently move business forward without disruption. It’s more than taking minutes or understanding the latest edition of Robert’s Rules of Order—Sarah demonstrates that parliamentary procedure can be a helpful tool, and as a former educator, she knows how to make the tricky parts understandable.