Banish the Phrase “I So Move” from Meetings

A prior article examined Why the Chair Never Asks for Old Business. Let’s take a look at another phrase that’s used too often in meetings when it should be avoided–“I so move.”

Sometimes at a board or membership meeting following the remarks of a member or a committee report, the speaker or another member will say “So moved!” or “I so move.” For only 2 or 3 words, few phrases can lead a business meeting into more confusion and trouble.

For organizations that follow Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (12th Edition), the phrase “I so move” only appears once. And that’s in the context of never using it! RONR (12th Ed.) 10:9.

The problem with “I so move” is that it doesn’t give the body enough detail about the proposed motion. Let’s say a committee has investigated a problem and reported back with suggestions for improvement. The committee’s report might include a description of the problem, the committee’s work, and recommendations on addressing the problem. If following the report the body proceeds with “so moved,” what has been adopted? The entire report? Only the recommendations? What language goes in the minutes as to the adopted motion? After all, minutes are the “official record of the proceedings” of a meeting and should include “the wording in which each motion was adopted or otherwise disposed of.” RONR (12th Ed.) 48:4. (See A Minute on Meeting Minutes) Unfortunately, “I so move” gives little guidance to those drafting the minutes as to what the maker intended when making the proposal.

As the phrases “So moved” or “I so move” aren’t likely to disappear from meetings, what should be done? Here are two recommendations:

  1. Any member saying “So moved” or “I so move” should be asked to better explain the exact wording of their motion. This would be in line with Robert’s, which states that motions should be worded in a “concise, unambiguous, and complete form.” RONR (12th Ed.) 10:9. Robert’s recommends that motions be made in the form “I move that . . . ,“ and then stating the proposal in wording that will become the official statement of the action.
  2. As an alternative, the Chair when stating the motion (by saying “It is moved and seconded that [or “to] . . .” and then repeating the motion) should clear up any ambiguity. In other words, rather than adding to the confusion with a vague phrase such as, “You’ve heard the motion,” the Chair should state the proposal in full with details as the Chair understands the motion. That will help members better understand what is to be discussed and voted upon. In addition, if the maker disagrees with the Chair’s wording of the motion, the language can be fixed before things get confused.

Proper meeting procedure is designed to avoid confusion and lets members know what is about to be discussed, what is being voted upon, and afterwards what has been adopted. Making certain that motions are clear is an essential part of that process. So I move that the phrase “I so move” be banished from meetings!

Jim Slaughter is an attorney, Certified Professional Parliamentarian, Professional Registered Parliamentarian, and past President of the American College of Parliamentary Lawyers. He is author of four books on meeting procedure, including two updated for the latest Robert’s Rules: Robert’s Rules of Order Fast Track and Notes and Comments on Robert’s Rules, Fifth Edition. Both books have been selected as “Editor’s Picks” by Publisher’s Weekly. Many free charts and articles on Robert’s and meeting procedure can be found at

Corporate LawParliamentary Law