Parliamentary Procedure

Parliamentary Procedure (often referred to as “Parly Pro” or “Robert’s Rules”) is a set of rules followed during meetings that will allow for everyone to be heard and help avoid confusion. “Parly Pro” is important because it allows for flexibility, democratic rule, the protection of everyone’s rights, and a fair hearing for everybody’s view point. To prepare for the effective use of parliamentary procedure, there are some basic etiquette rules and terms that you should discuss with members of your organization:

Wait to be recognized

When a member wants to speak, that person should raise a hand and wait to be recognized by the president. This person has the floor ensures that you have the attention of your fellow members and avoids two people speaking at once. At no time will the officer recognize anyone until the first person “yields the floor.” When a person is done talking, they state “I yield the floor.”

  • don’t interrupt a person to make a point
  • don’t talk when someone else has the floor
  • don’t talk until the presiding officer informs you that you have the floor; yield the floor when finished

The Floor

A member obtains the floor to make a comment, ask a question or make a motion. A member can obtain the floor by raising a hand and being recognized by the president.

Limit Discussion

When a member is called upon to speak, his or her words should be well thought-out and verbalized professionally. Repetition is boring! Make your point and move on. Generally, you can speak no more than twice a motion. The more concise your speech is, the more efficient the meeting will be.

Know Who Is In Charge

The presiding officer of the meeting is the president, then the vice-presi­dent, treasurer or secretary, in a traditional organization. The presiding officer does not have voting power and cannot offer an opinion about any motion on the floor unless the officer verbally passes the gavel (turns control of the meeting over) to the next person in charge. However, the presiding officer casts the deciding vote in all deadlocked matters.

Yielding the Floor

When you have the floor and are finished speaking, you say “I yield the floor” so that the president knows that you are finished and business can proceed.


The president officer states “all those in favor of/opposed to (and repeats the motion)”. Voting members can respond by raising a hand in one of three ways:

  • in favor of (aye): agree with motion as it was read and support plan of action denoted by motion
  • oppose (nay): do not agree with at least part of a motion. If you oppose part of a motion, you should oppose it. Another motion can always be made with any modification that you would like to make.
  • abstain: You can abstain from a vote or, in other words, not cast a vote, when you have a conflict of interest with the motion on the table, or simply do not feel that you have enough information to make an informed decision.

Adjourning the Meeting

A motion must be made to adjourn.

Point of Order

A member can state “point or order” even if they do not have the floor if the business being discussed is operating outside the boundaries of rules and order. The president must recognize the member bringing the point of order and upon recognition, the member should state the reason they feel the discussion is out order. The presiding offer then decides whether or not it is correct.

Point of Information

If you don’t understand the business that is being discussed you can state “point of information” and ask for clarification.

Point of Inquiry

If you have a question about parliamentary procedure, raise your hand, state “I rise to parliamentary inquiry,” and wait for the president to tell you that you have the floor.


Nominations must be opened and closed. Follow your bylaws for the specific way of handling the nominations.

While following these simple guidelines can improve the quality of a meeting, there are stricter rules that will ensure the success of a clear and concise meeting. Most of the rules involve making motions, which are used when members want your organization to allocate funds, take an official stance on an issue, or conduct other type of organizational business. Read on to learn the basics of making, changing, and rescinding motions.

Making a Motion

Motions are used during a meeting to introduce a new idea or to follow up on an old one, a proposal to take stand or take action. Motions can be presented, seconded, debated, and voted upon. A motion must be made for a decision that will be made by the organization, but you do not need to agree with the topic to make a motion.

  • When to Make a Motion Motions are generally made under new business.
  • How to Make a Motion First, you must obtain the floor, or be recognized to speak. To do this, you must wait until the speaker is finished rise and address the chair, and give your name. The chair will recognize you by repeating your name. When making the motion, be positive, say, “I move that we...” or “I move that we do not...” The motion must be seconded and the chair must state the motion before the speaker expands on it.
  • How to Second a Motion If a motion is not seconded, the motion cannot be discussed or voted upon. Any other member of the organization can second a motion. By seconding a motion, you do not necessarily need to agree with it, but feel that the issue needs to be discussed. Without a second, there is no motion and no discussion.
  • Discussion After seconded, a motion comes under discussion; the first person to speak is the one who made the motion, after recognition by the chair. If there is no discussion, the president should say “Being that there is none, all in favor of...” and repeats the motion.

A person can amend a motion by removing part of the statement, adding something to it, or both. Amendments must relate to the subject as presented in the main motion. It is proper to state, “I move to amend the motion by...” There are two kinds of basic amendments:

  • Friendly Amendment If a motion has been made and needs slight modification, you can suggest a friendly amendment by stating “I’d like to make a friendly amendment by...” and explain the change you are suggesting. They can be used to correct, add, or to strike out, but the amendment should not change the basic motion. If the member who made the original motion and the person who seconded the motion accept the friendly amendment, the president reads the new motion. If either member rejects it, then suggested amendment must be made as a formal amendment.
  • Formal Amendment If a motion has been made and needs a major modification, you can move to amend a motion before it is voted upon. This type of amendment can also be used when your attempt to make a friendly amendment has been rejected.
  • Question A member may “call the question” when they have the floor. Once the question is called, all discussion on the motion stops. The president should ask if any member opposes the question. If no one opposes the question, that means that discussion will stop. A vote will take place immediately. If someone opposes the question, then a vote is taken to see how many people oppose. If the majority of members oppose the question, then the original discussion is back on the table. If the majority does not, then discussion stops and a vote is taken on the original motion.

Tabling a motion means that you want to lay a motion aside temporarily to deal with more pressing matters or until more information can be gathered. However, the motion will only be tabled to the next regular meeting of your organization. If the motion is not tabled/addressed at that meeting, then it will die. A motion may be tabled when one member moves to table it and there is a second. The chair should then call for a vote to table. A majority vote will table the motion. If the motion does not get tabled, then it comes back for discussion.


To change a motion, it must be rescind. Any vote may be rescinded by a majority vote, if notice of the motion was given at the previous meeting; or it may be rescinded without notice by a two-thirds vote.


The method of voting on a motion depends on the by-laws of the organization. Voting can be done by voice, show of hands, roll call, ballot, or general consent. Most votes require only a majority to pass, but motions concerning the rights of the assembly or its members need 2/3 votes to be adopted.