Parliamentary Procedure Resources

Basic Parliamentary Procedure

Common Parliamentary Terms

The Agenda is the order of business to be followed in the meeting.

Bylaws are the basic rules of an organization.

The Chair is the person presiding over the meeting. It also can designate the place or station of the presiding officer.

Majority Vote means more than half of the votes cast. Abstentions are not counted in determining the vote.

Minutes are the official record of the proceedings in a meeting.

Parliamentary Authority refers to the specific procedural book adopted by an organization. Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised is the most well-known parliamentary manual. Other manuals include Sturgis Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, Demeter's Manual of Parliamentary Law and Procedure, Riddick's Rules of Procedure, Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure and Bourinot's Rules of Order (used in Canada).

Previous Notice is a term meaning announcement that a motion will be made at the next meeting. Notice can be given orally or in the call of the meeting.

Quorum refers to the number of members an organization requires to be present at a meeting in order to legally transact business. A quorum is the majority of all members unless stated otherwise in the bylaws. In the absence of quorum, no business can be legally transacted except to fix the time to which to adjourn, recess, seek to obtain a quorum by contacting absent members during a recess, or adjourn.

Two-Thirds Vote means two-thirds of the votes cast. Abstentions are not counted in determining the vote.

How is business brought before the assembly?

To get business before the assembly a member must make a motion. A main motion is a formal proposal for consideration and action.

Steps in Processing a Main Motion

  1. A member stands and addresses the chair when nothing is pending. "Mr. President." or "Madame President."
  2. The chair recognizes the member by stating the member's name or nodding at the member. "Mr. Williams." The member then has the right to speak.
  3. The member states his/her motion. "I move that we have a canned food drive."
  4. Another member seconds the motion (without recognition). "Second."
  5. The chair states the motion and places it before the assembly for discussion. "It is moved and seconded that we have a canned food drive. Is there any discussion?"
  6. Members have the right to get recognition and debate the motion. During debate, subsidiary motions ( i.e. amendments) may be introduced to help the assembly make a final decision.
  7. When discussion is finished, the chair puts the motion to a vote. "The question is on the adoption of the motion to have to have a canned food drive. All those in favor say AYE." (pause) "All those opposed say NO" (pause)
  8. The chair announces the results of the vote. "The AYES (NOES) have it and the motion is adopted (lost). We will (not) have a canned food drive. The next business in order is..."

Links to other Websites:

Parliamentary Resources

National Association of Parliamentarians

American Institute of Parliamentarians

Parliamentary Procedure 101

The Official Robert's Rules of Order Web Site

Parliamentary Procedure Instructional Materials Center

Robert McConnell Productions - Parliamentary Procedure Resource

Board Resources

Board Cafe - The Newsletter for Nonprofit Boards

Free Complete Toolkit for Boards

American Society of Association Executives

Nonprofit Resources

About Nonprofit Orgs

Student Leader Magazine Online