I’ve often wondered what a parliamentarian does at a meeting. Could you explain?
A parliamentarian is a meeting expert. Parliamentarians are trained understand the procedural authorities such as Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised or The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure (commonly called Sturgis, after Alice Sturgis, who wrote the first two editions). But more importantly they are trained to understand the philosophies of parliamentary law and to ensure that the rights of the organization, individuals both present and absent and the views of both the majority and minority are protected. Parliamentarians can help Associations and Organizations craft the governance documents and specific rules needed to ensure the organization functions the way it want/needs to function to ensure that each member is treated fairly and that meetings and organizations run smoothly and efficiently. Parliamentary procedure should be used as a tool, not an obstacle.
A parliamentarian should be used not only during the meeting (advising the chair and assembly, keeping the meeting on track), but also before the meeting (planning, strategizing) and after the meeting (minutes, lessons learned) as well. A good parliamentarian can recognize and prevent problems before they arise. Many parliamentarians are trained to preside at meeting and can step in as an impartial presiding officer if a situation needs a guiding hand. And a parliamentarian can train others on parliamentary procedure or help the Association develop or revise governance documents.
Organizations hire professional parliamentarians to ensure that procedural rules are used to benefit the association and its members. There are two organizations that accredit parliamentarians as a professional in their field:
- The National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP) has the RP – Registered Parliamentarian and PRP – Professional Registered Parliamentarian credentials.
- The American Institute of Parliamentarians (AIP) has the CP – Certified Parliamentarian and the CPP – Certified Professional Parliamentarian credentials. Additionally AIP grants a –T designation (CP-T, CPP-T) to those individual credentialed parliamentarians who have demonstrated competency in teaching parliamentary procedure.
As of March 2012, there are less than 30 Professional Parliamentarians world-wide who hold the highest of both organization’s credentials: PRP, CPP-T