What’s this gavel for anyway?

As youth learn the proper way to run a business meeting, the gavel can be an important tool.

Youth involved in the Michigan 4-H Youth Development program are often introduced to their first formal business meeting through participation in their local 4-H clubs. As the youth develop leadership skills and take on the roles and responsibilities of officers and managing the meetings, it is important to make sure youth have all the tools necessary to make them successful. According to Michigan State University Extension, one important tool often over looked is the use of a gavel.

The president of a 4-H club should utilize a gavel while running a meeting. It is used as a symbol of authority to support an orderly meeting. On the flip side it is important that the presiding officer doesn’t just rap whenever they want to or without meaning. The number of times a president raps the gavel has meaning and the membership is to respond to the number of raps with the appropriate action.

When the president calls the meeting to order, they should rap the gavel two times in order to draw the attention of the membership that the meeting is starting.

Three taps of the gavel is a sign for the membership to stand for the pledge to the flags. Following the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and the 4-H pledge, the president should then rap the gavel once in order to signify the membership to be seated.

A single tap of the gavel should follow the announcement of the result of a motion. The rap of the gavel draws attention to action occurring and it brings closure to the issue. It does not matter if a motion was passed or defeated; a single rap represents an end to that motion.

When concluding a meeting, the president should tap the gavel one time after announcing the adjournment of a meeting, thus bringing an end to the business meeting.

If the president is dealing with a business meeting that the members’ behavior is out of line, the president should use the gavel to maintain order during the meeting. If it is necessary to return the meeting to order, a sharp tap or a series of sharp taps of the gavel will bring attention to the presiding officer and thus bring order back to the meeting.

The usage of a gavel during a meeting can be a very useful tool in maintaining order but only if the president uses the gavel in an appropriate manner. Over using the gavel may result in the membership not paying attention and thus loose its effectiveness of bringing order or signifying results or direction to act. In all club meetings or business meetings, considering adding time for a short training with the members on how to properly use the gavel.

MSU Extension offers trainings around the basics of parliamentary procedure, running affective meetings and tools youth need to be successful in running a meeting.

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