by: Pat Reymann, Professional Reg. Parliamentarian
NCCW Leadership Training Development Team

Q: What do you mean by protocol?

A: To me protocol means official good manners. It is a set of customs or code of etiquette that properly respects the offices that members and guests may hold.

Q: How does protocol apply at a regular business meeting?

A: Members should address the officers by their titles, rather than by their names: Madame President, Madame Secretary, etc. When the officers give their reports, the President should go first. Officers should be seated at the head table, along with the Spiritual Advisor and Parliamentarian (who is sometimes considered an appointed officer).

Good manners also dictate that only one person speak at a time; side conversations are a breach of protocol as well as manners.

When making an introduction, keep it brief with information that is of interest to the audience. Mention the name of the speaker only at the end – your final words of the introduction.

Q: What protocol is used when you have a visiting dignitary?

A: It is imperative that one person be designated as the host for your special guest. She should meet the guest (at the airport or at the door); escort him/her to the coat room; indicate the rest room if the guest traveled far; give him/her refreshments or take him/her to the head of the refreshment line; escort the guest to his/her seat (probably at the head table); introduce the guest to others who will sit with him/her; provide a glass of water when he/she is speaking; say goodbye and take the guest to the airport (if applicable). The care of the special guest should be the host’s only duty for the meeting.

Q: Who sits at the head table?

A: During a business meeting the officers, Spiritual Advisor, special guests and Parliamentarian should be seated at the head table. The President is usually at the center with the Secretary and Parliamentarian on either side. Those of higher rank, such as the Spiritual Advisor and special guests, should sit on the President’s right side; the others should sit on the left.

At a banquet at which no business will be conducted, the arrangement is similar but the Parliamentarian does not need to be included.

This article may be shared online or in print. Please credit the National Council of Catholic Women.

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