If you hear the words “professional parliamentarian,” and your first thought isn’t, “parli…what?” – then you’re likely thinking, “Wait, there are people who actually do that willingly, even for money?” or, “Please, may I never meet that person.”

I’m here to tell you that “professional parliamentarian” doesn’t have to mean “the most rulesy, inflexible person alive.” On the contrary, a professional parliamentarian is simply a person who knows meeting rules well enough to help you get things done efficiently and avoid trouble along the way. Here are two reasons you should hire one (and stay tuned – two more coming up next week).

1. A Professional Parliamentarian Can Make You Look Good.

There’s a common scenario that goes like this: An individual moves up the ranks of an organization and finds herself in the position of president. She’s likely there because she’s highly successful in her profession and/or generally well-respected in the group. And now she has to preside over the annual meeting in front of a large assembly of her peers. Great, she thinks. What now? What are the words to say to process motions and get through the election? And what if Mr. Always-Has-Something-to-Say comes to the microphone and rattles off some sort of “according to Robert’s Rules” mumbo-jumbo?

This is exactly where a professional parliamentarian can be a lifesaver – when meeting leadership (new or old) needs someone with know-how to guide them through the troubled waters of procedure. We can write you a script in our sleep that will make you look like a pro. Mr. Always-Has-Something-to-Say doesn’t catch us off guard – we have scripts in our back pocket for responding to people like him, and we’re ready to pass them discreetly to you to read.

Believe it or not, using a parliamentarian (to help you preside during those extra important events) is a pretty seamless process that leaves most of the audience wondering who that extra person was on the platform and why she was there! That person is the professional parliamentarian—giving you confidence regarding what to say when and generally helping you lead well.

2. A Professional Parliamentarian Can Make Your Meetings Shorter.

This one is a no-brainer. Not trying to one-up anyone with this next question, but . . . How many business meeting agendas have you drafted or worked on in your lifetime? Ten, maybe? I have lost count of the number I’ve worked on, but a safe estimate is in the hundreds. And here’s where that experience really counts: I can usually look at an agenda and in short order find about 15 minutes (or more) of wasted time. It’s not just me – most professional parliamentarians can do the same.

Want a shorter meeting? Get us involved early, and we’ll help you structure your meeting and votes to get business done efficiently.

Bonus Tip: Some professional parliamentarians are also especially skilled at presiding. In our line of work, we can either coach the presiding officer or serve as presider. If you’re willing to let a parliamentarian serve as presider and run the meeting for you, that professional’s knowledge of the rules and her experience can dramatically streamline the entire process. It is sometimes best to let the president preside, but if you have flexibility, I’d suggest you seriously consider a professional parliamentarian with presiding skills. Members are often very appreciative of the productivity and flow that come with having a professional at the podium.

But, you’re thinking, you have no idea the kind of mess we’ve got coming up at this next annual meeting.

Answer 1: A professional parliamentarian has seen many versions of crazy. We’re hard to shock.

And answer 2: Hang tight. Next week’s post (with two more reasons) is for you.