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Parliamentary Procedure

Parliamentary procedure, sometimes referred to as Robert’s Rules of Order, is a time-tested set of rules for conducting business meetings and public gatherings. Using these procedures as a guide helps create an atmosphere where everyone has an opportunity to be heard and decisions can be made without confusion.

Sample Agenda

Groups using parliamentary procedure usually follow a standard agenda, similar to sample that follows.

  1. Call to Order – The chair says, “The meeting will please come to order.”
  2. Quorum – A quorum is the number of members that must be present for business to be conducted. This number is usually outlined in the chapter’s bylaws.
  3. Minutes – The secretary reads the minutes (notes) from the last meeting.
  4. Officers’ Reports – This may be limited to a report from the treasure, but other officers may report at this time too.
  5. Committee Reports – Representative of standing or permanent committee report first followed by any special or temporary committees.
  6. Special Orders – This is the time to address important business previously designated for consideration during the meeting.
  7. Unfinished Business – This is business left over from a previous meeting.
  8. New Business – New topics are introduced.
  9. Announcements – The assembly is informed of other subjects or events.
  10. Adjournment – The meeting ends by a vote or general consent.

General Rules

  • All members have equal rights, privileges and obligations.
  • Only one person should speak at a time.
  • If you are given the right to speak by the chair, stand and identify yourself.
  • No member can speak twice on the same issue until everyone else wishing to speak has spoken on it once.
  • Remarks should be courteous in language and manner.
  • Personal comments should not be made.
  • Silence means consent.
  • All remarks must be directed to the chair.

Calling the meeting to order

  • The presiding officer or chair calls the meeting to order, usually with the aid of a gavel tap.

Making a motion

  • Obtain the floor by standing and addressing the chair. Wait to be recognized by the chair.
  • Properly state the motion, “I move that we revise the chapter bylaws.”
  • Wait for someone to second the motion and the chair to state your motion before proceeding.

Types of motions

  • Main motions introduce items to the membership for consideration. They cannot be made when another motion is on the floor. Main motions yield to privileged subsidiary and incidental motions.
  • Subsidiary motions change or affect how a main motion is handled.
  • Privileged motions bring up items that are urgent about special or important matters such as members or the organization rather than the items of pending business.
  • Incidental motions provide a means of questioning procedure concerning other motions and must be considered before the other motion.


  • Obtain the floor and state your view of the issue in a non-offensive manner.

When Discussion Ends

Discussion on a motion may end when:

  • No one says anything.
  • A member says, “I call for the question.” This means that the member wants the motion brought to a vote.
  • The president decides that there has been adequate discussion.


  • The presiding officer should make it known what method of voting will be used. “All in favor say aye” or “all in favor raise your hand," etc.
  • Count both sides of the vote even if the vote seems to be unanimous.
  • Properly announce the result of the vote. “The motion passes” or “the motion fails.”


  • The motion to adjourn must be made when no one else has the floor. It must the await a second. A majority vote is required to pass this and is not debatable.
  • Obtain the floor.
  • Say, “I move that we adjourn.”
  • Wait for a second to the motion. The motion must be voted on.