Parliamentary procedure: A skill you can use throughout a lifetime

Youth learning parliamentary procedure now will use it in the future.

Youth involved in clubs and organizations can benefit now and in the future by actively learning the skills related to running a meeting, called parliamentary procedure.  According to The National Association of Parliamentarians, parliamentary procedure refers to the rules of democracy — that is, “the commonly accepted way in which a group of people come together, present and discuss possible courses of action, and make decisions.”

Additionally, they state, “All types of decision-making bodies on a daily basis use parliamentary procedure: school boards, homeowners’ associations, city councils, and non-profit boards of directors, for example. Parliamentary procedure also defines what duties people typically have when they are elected the president, secretary, or treasurer of an organization.”

If youth are not already involved with a youth organization, it’s highly probable that at some point they will be part of a group mentioned above.  Colorado State University highlights a 4-H Youth curriculum that combines resources from several Cooperative Extension Systems throughout the United States. 

The curriculum explains that, “Parliamentary procedure is one of the most effective means by which individuals can take orderly action as a group. Depending on the skills that members have, the club can use simple, informal or formal parliamentary procedures. Club officers as well as club members should learn the appropriate parliamentary procedures they are going to use in making club decisions.”

They highlight three different meeting styles including:

Simple Style

Characteristics: No formal agenda; group discusses business until they agree on what to do; probably no officers; open discussion.

Settings: Project meetings, small groups, sessions with younger members.

Informal Style

 Characteristics: Flexible meeting agenda; basic parliamentary procedures; chairperson or elected officers; controlled discussion.

Settings: 4-H meetings, school/church/civic organizations.

Formal Style

Characteristics: Precise meeting agenda; standard parliamentary procedures following Robert’s Rules of Order; elected officers.

Settings: Large gatherings; 4-H Federation meeting, FFA formal meetings.

As presented, different settings may call for various levels of parliamentary knowledge and Michigan State University Extension provides educational programming for both youth and adults to increase skill level and educate all Michigan residents on parliamentary procedure.  To contact an expert in your area, visit the MSU Extension Find an Expert page

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