business meeting etiquette

Business Meeting Etiquette

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How to Participate in General Conference Business Sessions with Respect and Confidence

  1. Prepare in Advance of the Meeting
    • General Conference business meetings are conducted according to the current General Conference Bylaws and the most recent version of Robert’s Rules of Order. Make time in advance of the meeting to familiarize yourself with our Bylaws and the basics of Robert’s Rules of Order. Our current Bylaws may be found in Spanish and in English by following a link to our Church Manual that may be found near the bottom of the web page located at Our current Bylaws are within our Church Manual. The basics of Robert’s Rules of Order may be found by googling “robert’s rules of order basics”.
    • Information about most of the items that will be considered at each General Conference Business Meeting is always made available at least 30 days in advance. Make time in advance of the meeting to familiarize yourself with the nominees available for election to our Board of Directors and with any proposed amendments to our Bylaws. The proposed amendments to the Bylaws may be found in Spanish and in English on the web page located at


  1. Pay Attention During the Meeting
    • Listen carefully to the Chairman! The Chairman will give the members very clear information and directions throughout the meeting. He will tell us exactly what is being done or considered at each point throughout the meeting and how we may participate appropriately. When it is time to vote, the Chairman will tell us how to do that. When it is appropriate for members in the meeting to go to a microphone to be recognized and allowed to speak to the rest of the members in favor of or in opposition to a motion under consideration, the Chairman will tell us how to do that. To participate without wasting time, pay attention to the Chairman and follow his directions.
    • Be in the meeting! If you are visiting with friends in a hallway during the meeting, you will not know what is being said and done in the meeting. You will also miss your opportunities to participate in making the decisions that are being made.
    • Don’t be distracted! If you are visiting with others inside of the meeting, even if you are talking about what is happening in the meeting, you will miss hearing the Chairman’s instructions and the points being made by the members who are given permission to speak to all of the members. You will also be distracting those around you who are trying to pay attention to the Chairman or to the member who is speaking to all members from a microphone. Don’t be rude. Limit your conversations within the meeting and keep them as quiet and brief as possible.
    • Turn off your phone, tablet or laptop! You can’t surf the web or answer email and pay careful attention to the business meeting at the same time. And, if you must leave your phone on for some legitimate reason, put it into silent vibrate mode. You know that guy whose phone goes off in church and he’s suddenly fumbling to answer his phone before the 10th ring and he then begins talking on his phone as he’s trying to get out of the room? Don’t be that guy!


  1. If you wish to speak during the business meeting…
    • Be sure that you are qualified to speak. Only formal members of the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day) – that’s the Church of God (Seventh Day) located in the United States or Canada – who are at least 18 years old may participate in General Conference business meetings. If you do not hold formal membership in a General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day) congregation or district located in the United States or Canada, or if you are not at least 18 years old, you are welcome to attend the business meeting, but you are not allowed to speak or vote.
    • Be sure it is the appropriate time to speak. There are times within the meeting when it is appropriate for members to speak to the Chairman and the assembly of members and there are times when that is not appropriate. The Chairman will invite members to speak when it is appropriate for us to do so.
    • Carefully decide what you are going to say before you approach the microphone. Make every effort to be focused, specific, and concise.
    • Wait to be recognized by the Chairman before you begin to speak. When members are invited by the Chairman to speak to the rest of the members in the meeting and you wish to speak, go to one of the microphones located on the floor and wait your turn. When it is your turn, the Chairman will recognize you and invite you to speak to the assembly. Until the Chairman recognizes you, inviting you to speak, remain silent.
    • An exception to this rule… If any member who has been recognized by the Chairman offers a motion that you think the assembly should discuss and vote upon, you should immediately say “Second” loud enough for the Chairman to hear you. If no one immediately “seconds” the motion, the Chairman will ignore it and the members will not be able to discuss it. Seconding a motion does not necessarily mean you support the motion.  It only means you agree it should be discussed by the members present in the business session.


  1. When the Chairman invites you to speak…
    • Be polite and follow the correct etiquette!
    • Always address your comments to the Chairman; never address your comments to anyone else.
    • Say “Thank you, Mr. Chairman.” (Though our Chairman has a name, his name should never be used in the process of conducting business. He is “Mr. Chairman” or “our Chairman” or “the Chairman.” Likewise, though our fellow members all have names, we should almost never refer to a fellow member by his or her name during the business meeting. For example – Don’t say, “I disagree with John”; say “I disagree with the member.”)
    • Introduce yourself and your home congregation. Say “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am [Jane Doe] and I am a member of [For example – the Marion, Iowa Church of God (Seventh Day)].
    • State your purpose for speaking. Say “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am [Jane Doe] and I am a member of [the Marion, Iowa Church of God (Seventh Day)]. I rise to speak in favor of [or in opposition to] the motion.” Or, if your purpose is to offer an appropriate motion, “I rise to offer the following motion.”
    • Then, fulfill your purpose. Offer your motion or say why you support or oppose a motion already under consideration.
    • If you decide that you want to speak to the same question again, you must wait until everyone else who wishes to speak has had an opportunity to do so. If you choose to speak twice, please be aware that Robert’s Rules of Orders prevents a member from speaking to the same question more than twice on the same day.
    • Continue to pay attention to the Chairman!
    • If your purpose for speaking is to offer a motion…
    • Offer your motion, then wait silently for further instructions from the Chairman. If your motion is “seconded” and if your motion is considered appropriate according to Robert’s Rules of Order by the Chairman, he will invite you to speak further, telling your fellow members why you are offering your motion and why you think they should support it.
    • The Chairman may interrupt you at any time. If he does, listen to him carefully and follow his instructions.
    • Avoid wasting time!
    • Don’t ask a question that has already been asked and answered.
    • Don’t say the same thing that another member has already said.
    • Don’t ask a question or begin speaking about something that is not immediately related to the topic the Chairman has placed before the members.

This article originally appeared in the Special Printed Convention Issue of Artios Magazine (Lead Up’s predecessor), July 2017, and is updated and reprinted with permission by the author.

Loren Stacy
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