What is parliamentary procedure?

How parliamentary procedure can help a variety of different groups.

According to the National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP), parliamentary procedure refers to the rules of democracy. This is the commonly accepted way in which a group of people come together, present and discuss possible courses of action, and make decisions.

NAP explains that, “parliamentary procedure defines how groups of people, no matter how formal or informal, can most effectively meet and make decisions in a fair, consistent manner—and make good use of everyone’s time. While parliamentary procedure cannot guarantee that every member of an organization is pleased with the outcome of a decision, it aims to ensure that every member is satisfied by the manner in which the decision was made and that the organization makes decisions efficiently but with consideration for every member’s opinion.”

Many different groups use parliamentary procedure, including school boards, homeowners’ associations, city councils and non-profit boards. Parliamentary procedure also defines the duties board members will have when if elected the president, secretary or treasurer of an organization.

Even a basic background in parliamentary principles can help organizations hold more efficient meetings. However, consulting with a professional parliamentarian can bring organizations the benefits of a high level of parliamentary proficiency backed by dedicated study and broad experience.

Michigan State University Extension educators can provide your organization with assistance in learning more about parliamentary procedure. The Government and Public Policy team also offers training for elected and appointed officials for improved effectiveness in several areas, including various public policy issues and effects of government programs, regulation, incentives, strategies and more. By working together with local elected and appointed officials, and interested citizens, MSU Extension is able to provide education on critical local and state issues. 

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