Parliamentary Procedure


Parliamentary procedure provides rules and guidelines to enable groups to come together to discuss and make
decisions in a consistent manner. Most organizations with a governing body adhere to some form of
parliamentary procedure, with many using Robert’s Rules of Order, a manual of rules and practices to help
conduct fair and efficient meetings. As parliamentary procedure can be complex at times, here is a helpful guide to common terms and actions.

A quorum must be present, meaning the minimum number of voting members of the deliberative body must be
present for any action to be taken.

A motion is a proposal that the entire board membership act or stand on an issue and moves an item to

There are several types of motions, including:

  • Main Motion: Introduce a new item.
  • Subsidiary Motion: Change or affect how to handle a main motion (vote on this before main motion).
  • Privileged Motion: Urgent or important matter unrelated to pending business.
  • Incidental Motion: Questions procedure of other motions (must consider before the other motion).
  • Motion to Table: Kills a motion.
  • Motion to Postpone: Delays a vote (can reopen debate on the main motion).

Every Motion Has 6 Steps:

  • Motion: A member rises or raises a hand to signal the chairperson.
  • Second: Another member seconds the motion.
  • Restate Motion: The chairperson restates the motion.
  • Debate: The members debate the motion.
  • Vote: The chairperson restates the motion, and then first asks for affirmative votes, and then negative
  • votes.
  • Announce the Vote: The chairperson announces the result of the vote and any instructions

Main Motion
-You want to propose a new idea or action.
“Chairperson, I move that

Amending a motion

-You want to change some of the wording that is being discussed. “Chairperson, I move that the motion be amended by adding/striking the following words

Refer to a Committee
You feel that an idea or proposal being discussed needs further research or investigation.
“Chairperson, I move that the question be referred to the _____ Committee.

Postpone a Motion Definitely or Indefinitely

You want to have more time to consider a motion or kill a motion on the table. “Chairperson, I move to postpone the question until .” or “Chairperson, I move to postpone the question indefinitely.”

You want to take a break.
“Chairperson, I move to recess for 10 minutes.”

You want the meeting to end.
“Chairperson, I move to adjourn the meeting.”

Source: Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised 12th Edition (RONR)
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