Start with the basics of parliamentary procedure described here, then help your club continue to “learn by doing.”


One of the basics of parliamentary procedure is how to move and dispose of a motion:

1. Recognition by the chair. A member seeks permission to speak to initiate a motion by simply raising his/her hand or standing and saying, “Mister/Madam
President.” When the president recognizes the member, that member has the floor and may speak.

2. The motion. A member should say, “I move that we … .” (It is not correct to
say, “I make a motion that….”)

3. Second. The motion must receive a second before any discussion begins.
A member does not need to be recognized to second a motion but just says,
“I second the motion” or simply “Second.” Obtaining a second indicates that
at least two people favor discussing the motion. If there is no second, the
motion is dropped.

4. Discussion. Once the motion has been moved and seconded, its merits can
then be discussed. The president must first recognize a member of the group
before discussion begins. The member explains his/her reasons for supporting
or opposing the motion to the group.

5. Vote. Discussion on a motion may end in three ways:

• No one says anything.
• A member says, “I call for the question.” That means the member
wants the motion brought to a vote.
• The president decides that there has been adequate discussion.
• Some methods of voting include:
• Voice vote (aye/nay)
• A show of hands
• Standing
• Roll call
• Secret ballot

The president should always call for both sides of the vote even if the vote
appears to be unanimous. After voting is complete, the president announces the result: “The motion passes/fails.” With the parliamentary procedure method of decision making, a majority is needed to pass a motion. A majority is more than half of the members present and voting.


Sometimes group members want to change a motion while it is in the discussion
phase. This is called an amendment. It is recommended that only one amendment to
a motion be permitted. An amendment generally strikes out, adds or substitutes words
in the main motion (after it has been moved and seconded and is being discussed).

To amend a motion:

1. A group member is recognized by the president to speak, then says, “I move
to amend the motion to … by adding the words … .” A second to this amendment is required.

2. Discussion follows for the amendment only, not the original motion.

3. When it is time to vote, the president conducts a vote to determine if the
amendment passes. A majority is needed to pass it.

• If the amendment passes, discussion follows on the motion as
• After the discussion, a vote is taken on the motion as amended. A
majority is needed for it to pass.
• If the amendment does not pass, discussion on the original motion
• After the discussion, a vote is taken on the motion. A majority vote is
needed for it to pass.


There may be times during your club meetings when there is a reason to delay the decision on a motion. Perhaps there is not enough information to make a decision, or everyone who would be affected by the decision is not present to give input. The procedure for approving this delay is called “laying (a motion) on the table.” This delays a decision until another time.

The steps for tabling a motion follow:

1. During discussion of a motion, a member is recognized by the president and
says, “I move to lay the motion on the table.” A second is required.

2. No discussion is permitted. The group proceeds directly to voting on
whether to table the motion. A majority is needed for the motion to be tabled.

The steps for bringing back a motion:

1. To bring back a motion so it can be discussed and acted on is called “taking
(a motion) from the table.” While in the Old (or Unfinished) Business portion
of the meeting, a member says “I move to take from the table (motion’s
name).” A second is required.

2. No discussion is permitted. The group proceeds to vote on whether to bring
the motion from the table. A majority is needed to take a motion from the
table. Once a motion has been brought back from the table, it is the next item
of business. Generally a tabled motion comes back for consideration at
the next regular meeting. Don’t use the motion to table as a way to “kill” a


A call for the orders of the day is a motion to require the club to conform to its agenda or order of business. It is usually called because the allotted time for the business session has ended. The “call” may be made by any member and does not require a second. (In Big “D” Toastmasters, the chair, usually the president, must then proceed to the next scheduled item on the agenda.)