Making decisions with parliamentary procedure

Parliamentary procedure helps organize board meetings.

The goal of boards, councils and committees is to run meetings that are meaningful, accomplish goals and produce results in outcomes that move an organization forward. Managing board meetings can be done in many ways, but most boards use parliamentary procedure to guide them. Parliamentary procedure is a fair, effective and efficient way to run a business meeting.  According to the Michigan State University Extension publication, Helping You Help Officers and Committees, parliamentary procedure is effective when providing an orderly way to conduct the group’s business and make decisions. It is fair because it is a democratic process for making a decision. It is efficient by keeping the group focused on one item of business at a time. The most common parliamentary procedure reference is Robert’s Rule of Order which is newly revised and currently in its 11th edition.  

A 4-H business meeting is often the first exposure a youth will have to a formal meeting process. Learning the basics of parliamentary procedure will give the youth the fundamentals they will need in order to participate in meetings. As members grow and develop they can choose to advance their knowledge and skills around this issue as well as take on leadership roles by running for officer roles within their club. The MSU Extension news article, Parliamentary procedure: A skill you can use throughout a lifetime, references the importance of knowing the basics of parliamentary procedure.

Basic terms an individual needs to know for effective use of parliamentary procedure include:

  • Main motion: How to make a motion, second, discussion and dispose of a motion.
  • Amendment: When a member wants to change a motion during the discussion phase.  
  • Postpone or refer to committee: Used when there is a reason to delay a decision on a motion.
  • Adjournment: Ending the meeting.

MSU Extension offers trainings for youth on the basics of parliamentary procedure. If your group or organization is interested in learning the basics, contact your local MSU Extension office.   

Parliamentary procedure is just one method that a board or organization can use to make decisions. Another decision making method is consensus building. Coming to a decision through consensus: the pros and cons, explores consensus building. Whatever method a board chooses to use in making a decision, they should remember that members need to move forward and support decisions for the better of the board, council, committee or organization.

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