Parliamentary Glossary
Learn the key words for parliamentary procedure and don't be left in the shadow during your next meeting

Annual Meeting – Generally, the meeting during the year when organizations elect officers and hear reports from officers, boards, and committees.

Assigning the Floor – The chair’s recognizing a member to be able to speak in debate or make motions.

Bylaws – Often the highest governing document of an organization.  Contain the rules governing the structure of an organization and include any limitations on the rights of members as well as standing delegations of powers from the membership as a whole to smaller entities within the organization (i.e., the board of directors or the executive committee).

Chair – The presiding officer, or, the person who leads a meeting.  Sometimes called “Moderator,” “Speaker,” or “President.”

Convention – A meeting of delegates who are usually chosen by constituent groups to conduct the business of the association. It is similar to an Annual Meeting, except that only members who have been selected to be delegates have voting rights.

Debate – Discussion and deliberation about a specific proposal (generally a motion)

Immediately Pending Motion – The single motion being considered, even when there are many pending motions.

Majority Vote – A vote where more than half the members present and voting vote in the affirmative (a majority is not 50 percent + 1 or 51 percent).

Meeting – An official gathering of an organization where business can legally take place.

Minutes – The official record of the proceedings of a meeting, generally written by an organization’s secretary and adopted by the assembly at the next meeting or a committee specifically appointed to adopt the minutes.

Motion – A formal proposal that the assembly take a specific action.

Obtaining the Floor – A member’s seeking the chair’s recognition to be able to speak in debate or make motions.

Parliamentarian – An expert on the rules of parliamentary procedure, but much more than that—a parliamentarian is an expert on how to make organizations and meetings operate in a fair and efficient manner.

Pending Motion – A motion under consideration.  Several motions may be pending at the same time.  For example, a main motion and an amendment to the motion may be pending at the same time.

Putting the Motion – That is, putting the motion to a vote.

Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised – The most commonly used parliamentary authority, originally written by Henry M. Robert in 1876,  and now in its 10th edition

Second – A signification that more than one member wants to consider a motion.

Stating a Motion – The chair’s saying, “It is moved and seconded to/that…”  Stating a motion has the effect of changing the ownership of a motion from the maker to the assembly.

Two-Thirds Vote – A vote where two members present and voting vote in the affirmative for every single member present and voting in the negative.

Vote – The official way to voice an opinion—no matter what members may have done or said in debate to support or oppose a proposal, only a vote has the power to commit an organization to a certain course of action.

Yielding the Floor – After a member is finished speaking, he or she sits down to allow the chair to assign the floor to another member.

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