The Local Government Meeting Procedures You Should Know About - iBabs (2023)

There are four forms of local government: counties, cities and towns, special districts and school districts. In the EU, for example, this is around 130,000 units of local government nationally. Local governments exist to solve problems, make decisions and drive improvements in the areas, districts or schools that they are responsible for.

Just like a regular meeting for an organisation, regulations, rules and bylaws apply here, too. To ensure that these meetings run smoothly, the same concepts are crucial – prepare an agenda, create processes, follow all rules that apply to your organisation and/or district and keep meeting minutes. Due to the large number of important decisions to be made as well as changes in organisational make-up, there has to be a paper trail and documentation for everything. Arguably, these are the most important records for local government bodies to have.

So, with this in mind, which local government meeting procedures should we be aware of, and who are we accountable to? Let’s take a look.

Table of content hide

1 The purpose of local government meetings

2 8 local government meeting procedures to increase your productivity

2.1 1. Establish chairperson roles and responsibilities

2.2 2. Follow a parliamentary procedure

2.4 4. Prepare your agenda early

2.5 5. Add time frames to the agenda

2.6 6. General housekeeping

2.7 7. Have a robust voting procedure in place

2.8 8. Write your minutes soon after

3 Effective vs efficient local governance

4 FAQs

4.1 Can constituents speak at council meetings even if their issue is not related to the agenda?

4.2 What is the difference between an ordinance and a resolution?

4.3 What comes under the local government?

5 Conclusion

6 References and further reading

The Local Government Meeting Procedures You Should Know About - iBabs (1)

Did you know iBabs offers a Meeting Management Solution optimised for councils and local government?

The purpose of local government meetings

Local government meetings can be held for a multitude of reasons. There may be public meetings required by law, which we will cover later on within the article. Apart from this, some of the most common reasons for a local government meeting are to:

  • Solve problems and reach decisions.
  • Share information.
  • Obtain information.
  • Provide training or instruction.
  • Discuss confidential topics or matters.

In some cases, formal meetings have to be made public (which includes to the press). However, they can be excluded if and when confidential matters are discussed. Depending on the local bylaws, organisations may have to give notice of the meeting as well as publish an agenda a set number of days ahead of the meeting.

8 local government meeting procedures to increase your productivity

Whether held publicly or privately, local government meetings should have a rigid set of meeting procedures to follow. Here are some top tips on procedures to improve the structure and flow of your meetings.

1. Establish chairperson roles and responsibilities

The first step is to establish the role of the chairperson and their responsibilities. Generally speaking, the chairperson will be responsible for:

  • Running the meeting and maintaining order.
  • Being the face of the local government.
  • Being the link between the local government and its stakeholders, shareholders and the public, particularly at public events.
  • Managing the meetings (alongside a secretary or clerk).
  • Ensuring good conduct within the local government.
  • Ensuring that votes are cast fairly.

Some local governments may only allow a chairperson to be in situ for 12 months, so it’s important that guidelines are made and that all chairpersons adhere to them equally and are held to the same standards.

2. Follow a parliamentary procedure

One of the best ways to ensure fairness and transparency throughout is by following a parliamentary procedure when running meetings.

Robert’s Rules of Order is one such procedure. It was initially put together by Henry Martyn Robert in 1876 when he struggled to maintain order as a leader of a church meeting. While the rules of order were loosely based on procedures used at that time by the United States House of Representatives, today Robert’s Rules is “America’s foremost guide to parliamentary procedure. It is used by more professional associations, fraternal organizations, and local governments than any other authority.”

Robert’s Rules of Order is based on the following simple fundamental principles:

  • Give all members an equal opportunity to have their voices heard.
  • Use the majority rule.
  • Protect the rights of all members.

If you are following Robert’s Rules of Order, you can take a look at our Robert’s Rules Of Order cheat sheet.

3. Plan public attendance

If your meeting is a public meeting, make a plan for this. Can members of the public reasonably fit into a physical location such as a town hall or school meeting room? Or would a virtual or hybrid meeting approach accommodate and engage more of them, with greater accessibility? If so, you’ll need to create guidelines for holding these meetings virtually, to ensure that they are still held with order but there’s ample time for debate and discussion by all.

The second part of planning public attendance is managing public comments. You need to decide whether you’ll have an open forum in the meeting itself or whether the public can submit comments in advance to be discussed.

4. Prepare your agenda early

As well as adherence to bylaws and legal requirements, preparing your meeting agenda early gives plenty of time for the other members to make comments and alter the priorities ahead of the meeting itself. That saves valuable time debating at the beginning of the meeting, leaving more time for discussions and votes to be had.

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5. Add time frames to the agenda

To keep the meeting on track and to avoid tangents, try to set time frames for all agenda items. Whether it is 5, 10 or 50 minutes, a set time limit can help ensure that you’re able to cover all important matters in the hours you have available for your local government meeting.

6. General housekeeping

Make sure that you have general housekeeping and rules for best practices in place. This includes ensuring that:

  • Everyone has a chance to speak and debate.
  • There is a good tone and order to the meeting (without anyone dominating, interrupting or making inappropriate remarks).
  • You can quickly return to order if there are tangents.
  • Everyone has complete access to any relevant information ahead of the meeting.

7. Have a robust voting procedure in place

If you’re adhering to a parliamentary procedure such as Robert’s Rules, there are likely to be voting rules and a voting procedure in place. However, if you don’t have this, you’ll need to create firm guidelines for voting, including majority vote rules, quorums and admissible forms of voting.

8. Write your minutes soon after

Finally, write the meeting minutes as soon as you can. You may have made quick scribbles or notes throughout, but it’s best to formalise this into minutes as soon as you can, to help you accurately recall discussions and important information. If you struggle with this, a meeting management tool such as iBabs can help you automate and reformat much of this process for you to make distribution easy.

Effective vs efficient local governance

The term effective refers to something that works to produce a result and is successful in doing so (i.e. walking or driving a car to the shop). Efficient is about something that’s produced and was done while minimising resources such as materials, energy, money or time (i.e. driving is quicker and requires less effort!).

In this sense, efficient local governance means executing the right things for the district while doing so in a way that reduces the use of and/or wastage of resources.


Can constituents speak at council meetings even if their issue is not related to the agenda?

Yes, there should be a public comment period both before and after the legislative session. However, constituents should not be permitted to take part in any key debates or core voting procedures made between members of the local government.

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What is the difference between an ordinance and a resolution?

In local government, a resolution is a statement of policy that a specific action will be taken. Resolutions can be submitted and adopted within a single meeting of the council and become effective upon adoption unless a date is specified for the future. An ordinance is an act adopted by the local government. Usually, it’s a law that involves a sanction if violated. An ordinance must be read and adopted by the majority vote at two meetings, no less than 12 days apart.

What comes under the local government?

Local government is the public administration of towns, cities, counties and districts. Local government includes both county and municipal government structures, such as a city government or city council.


To summarise, local government meetings aren’t too different from board meetings. Many of the same rules and procedures apply, depending on the parliamentary procedure documented. By following the eight local government meeting procedures outlined above, you’ll be able to manage your next scheduled meeting with ease.

Still not sure where to start? iBabs can help. This meeting management platform can make minutes, documents and notes easier to collaborate on and manage within your local government. Get started with a free product demo today to see how you can save time using iBabs’ portal.

References and further reading

  • Robert’s Rules of Order: Simplified Beginner’s Guide
  • The Complete Robert’s Rules Of Order Cheat Sheet (Made Easy)
  • Robert’s Rules of Order: The Meeting Agenda Simplified
  • Expert Minute Taking Tips + Template And Sample
  • Robert’s Rules of Order for Voting – All You Need To Know
  • The iBabs Board Portal


What are the procedures of meeting? ›

The role of the meeting chairperson
  • ensuring proper notice was given and an agenda provided;
  • checking (and usually signing) the minutes of previous meetings;
  • ensuring the meeting gets through its business in the allocated time. ...
  • dealing with the order of business;
  • keeping order and facilitating discussion;

What is basic meeting protocol and procedures? ›

Essentially, the meeting protocol is a template workflow from calling the meeting to signing off the minutes from the previous meeting. Within the board meeting protocol are: Board meeting rules. The technical details that must be met to ensure the board can make its decisions.

How do you write a protocol for a meeting? ›

Our meeting experts compiled 7 best practices that apply to all sorts of teams and scenarios.
  1. 1 Date and time of the meeting. ...
  2. 2 Names of the participants. ...
  3. 3 Purpose of the meeting. ...
  4. 4 Agenda items and topics discussed. ...
  5. 5 Key decisions and action items. ...
  6. 6 Next meeting date and place. ...
  7. 7 Documents to be included in the report.
Apr 18, 2023

What is local government meeting? ›

Local government meetings are gatherings where municipal council or regional district board members make decisions or move toward making decisions.

What are the seven 7 procedural steps for presenting inclusive meetings? ›

7 Step Meeting Process
  • Clarify Aim/Purpose.
  • Assign Roles.
  • Review Agenda.
  • Work through Agenda.
  • Review meeting record.
  • Plan Next Steps and Next Agenda.
  • Evaluate.

What are the four steps to prepare for meetings? ›

4 Simple Steps to Planning a Productive Meeting
  1. Step 1: Make Sure your Meeting has a Purpose. First, you need to set a goal for your meeting to ensure that it's necessary. ...
  2. Step 2: Prepare the Meeting's Structure. ...
  3. Step 3: Avoid Common Meeting Pitfalls. ...
  4. Step 4: Make Meetings Available Anywhere, Any Time.
Jul 23, 2019

What is a meeting preparation checklist? ›

Define the purpose of your meeting. Choose a date and time that work for everyone who needs to attend. Decide the format of the meeting (in person, or virtually) Send out a meeting agenda ahead of time.

Why is meeting procedures important? ›


Improve the efficiency in the conduct of the business of the meeting while giving protection to the rights of members present. Enable every person in the meeting to have an equal right to be heard and to have the opportunity to have their viewpoint considered.

What makes a good protocol? ›

The protocol should outline the rationale for the study, its objective, the methodology used and how the data will be managed and analysed. It should highlight how ethical issues have been considered, and, where appropriate, how gender issues are being addressed.

What are two examples of protocol? ›

Among the most important sets of Internet protocols are TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), HTTPS (Secure HyperText Transmission Protocol), SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), and DNS (Domain Name System).

What is one example of a protocol? ›

Protocols: It is a set of rules that need to be followed by the communicating parties in order to have successful and reliable data communication. For example - Ethernet and HTTP.

What are 3 things the local government does? ›

Municipalities generally take responsibility for parks and recreation services, police and fire departments, housing services, emergency medical services, municipal courts, transportation services (including public transportation), and public works (streets, sewers, snow removal, signage, and so forth).

What are the types of local government meeting? ›

The charter also details the form of municipal government, of which there are historically five forms: council-manager, mayor-council, commission, town meeting and representative town meeting.

What is the local government Act Code of meeting Practice? ›

The Model Code of Meeting Practice provides a uniform set of meeting rules for councils across the State to help ensure more accessible, orderly, effective and efficient meetings. The code applies to all meetings of councils and committees of councils of which all the members are councillors (committees of council).

What are the 5 P's of meetings? ›

Whether time in team meetings is time well spent or time wasted depends on the five Ps: purpose, planning, preparation, participation and P.S. A meeting needs to be the best way to use the hour or so it takes.

What are the 4 P's of meetings? ›

Know the Purpose, Product, People and Process (agenda) before the meeting and opening the meeting by sharing this information with meeting participants.

What are the 3 P's of effective meetings? ›

By applying the three P's—purpose, people, and process—you can get back some of that most precious of resources: your time.

What are the golden rules of meeting? ›

Each of the rules requires commitment from all participants.
  • Golden Rule #1: Run your meetings as you would have others run the meetings that you attend. ...
  • Golden Rule #2: Be prepared and ensure that all the participants can be as well. ...
  • Golden Rule #3: Stick to a schedule. ...
  • Golden Rule #4: Stay on topic.

What are the 7 ground rules for effective meetings? ›

Seven Rules for More Effective Meetings
  • Establish hard edges. Good meetings start and end on time. ...
  • Create an agenda. I don't think any meeting should proceed without an agenda. ...
  • State the desired outcome. ...
  • Review the minutes and action items. ...
  • Take written minutes. ...
  • Clarify action items. ...
  • Determine the next meeting date.

What is rule 4 of of meeting rules? ›

Rule 4 mandated physical meetings to discuss and approve the matters related to the approval of the annual financial statements; the approval of the Board's report; the approval of the prospectus; the Audit Committee Meetings for consideration of financial statement including consolidated financial statement if any; ...

What are the 5 steps involved in conducting a successful meeting? ›

Here are 5 brief steps for creating an effective meeting.
  • Plan ahead. ...
  • Establish ground rules–and follow them. ...
  • Keep the Time. ...
  • Keep the Focus. ...
  • Close with action plan.
Jun 13, 2011

What is the rule of 3 in meetings? ›

Following the "Rule of 3s," keep this general guideline in mind: Management should aim to schedule no more than one minute of meeting time for every three minutes of work. In essence, no more than a quarter of a day should be spent in meetings.

What should every meeting have? ›

An effective meeting brings a thoughtfully selected group of people together for a specific purpose, provides a forum for open discussion, and delivers a tangible result: a decision, a plan, a list of great ideas to pursue, a shared understanding of the work ahead.

How do you organize a successful meeting? ›

How to organize a meeting
  1. Define your objectives. The first step to organizing a meeting is defining its purpose. ...
  2. Decide who attends the meeting. ...
  3. Assign roles and responsibilities. ...
  4. Select the location and time. ...
  5. Consider different needs. ...
  6. Prepare the meeting agenda. ...
  7. Distribute materials in advance. ...
  8. Send a meeting recap.
Jun 24, 2022

What is the most important step in planning a meeting? ›

Whoever is involved, the key early step to designing an effective meeting is to be very clear about its purpose. Once the purpose is clear, communicate it to those involved, and plan meeting strategies that support the thoughtful involvement of those attending.

What is the most important part of planning a meeting? ›

Clarifying the purpose of your meeting is the first and most important planning step—this will drive all of the other elements of your prep. Don't pile on another meeting without thinking about other ways to accomplish your goal first.

What is the most important step in conducting a meeting? ›

Delegation: When conducting a meeting, it's important to address all key points and ensure that all voices get heard. To help you lead the meeting effectively, consider doing a roll call so you know who is in attendance and review the agenda with the attendees to help them stay focused and engaged.

What are the 5 standard protocol? ›

User Datagram Protocol (UDP) Post office Protocol (POP) Simple mail transport Protocol (SMTP) File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

What are the 3 main protocols? ›

There are three main types of network protocols, including network management protocols, network communication protocols and network security protocols.

What are the 4 types of protocol? ›

Common Internet protocols include TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), UDP/IP (User Datagram Protocol/Internet Protocol), HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) and FTP (File Transfer Protocol). TCP/IP is a stream protocol.

What is protocol in simple words? ›

The most common meaning of protocol is “a system of rules that explain the correct conduct and procedures to be followed in formal situations,” as in these example sentences: The soldier's actions constituted a breach of military protocol. They did not follow the proper diplomatic protocols.

What is a common protocol that? ›

The three most common protocols are the Time Protocol, the Daytime Protocol, and the Network Time Protocol (NTP). An Internet time server waits for timing requests sent using any of these protocols and sends a time code in the correct format when a request is received.

What is considered a protocol? ›

Protocol is most often used when talking about the rules of government or official agencies. It is derived from the French and refers to the correct rules of etiquette for diplomats.

What are the 7 protocols? ›

Common Management Information Protocol (CMIP) On TCP/IP stack:
  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP)
  • Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)
  • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)

What are three communication protocols examples? ›

Popular protocols include: File Transfer Protocol (FTP), TCP/IP, User Datagram Protocol (UDP), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), Post Office Protocol (POP3), Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP), Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP).

What are the 5 duties of local government? ›

What is the Role of Local Government?
  • Planning and zoning bylaws.
  • Taxation.
  • Local business support.
  • Collaborating between communities and in the larger region.
  • Accessing and using programs offered by provincial and federal governments.
  • Advocating for community economic development priorities with governments and industry.

What is the most important role of local government? ›

Among them are well known functions such as social care, schools, housing and planning and waste collection, but also lesser known ones such as licensing, business support, registrar services and pest control.

What are the 5 objects of local government? ›

(1) The objects of local government are— (a) to provide democratic and accountable government for local communities; (b) to ensure the provision of services to communities in a sustainable manner; (c) to promote social and economic development; (d) to promote a safe and healthy environment; and (e) to encourage the ...

What are the 4 most common types of local government? ›

Types of Local Governments
  • Municipalities.
  • Regional Municipalities.
  • Rural Communities (RC)
  • Local Service Districts (LSD)

What are 5 types of formal meetings? ›

Examples of formal meetings include, but are not limited to:
  • Board meetings.
  • Team or departmental meetings.
  • Quarterly reviews.
  • Committee meetings.
  • Governmental debates.

What is a local Code of Conduct? ›

Local Authorities are required to adopt a Code of Conduct which sets out rules governing the behaviour of their Members and satisfies the requirements of the Localism Act 2011.

What is a Code of Conduct in a meeting? ›

Be courteous, listen attentively, and be respectful of other points of view. Participate fully in the group exchange, and not engage in sideline conversations, cross-talk, or distracting behaviors. Be flexible and open to change and new ideas. Stay on task and not divert attention to other unrelated topics.

What are codes of practice and policies? ›

What Is a Code of Practice? Codes of practice are guidelines and rules that members of a profession, trade, occupation, organization, or union are expected to adhere to. They do not usually carry the force of legislation and are often rules crafted in response to actual or potential dangers observed on the job.

What are the 4 functions of a meeting? ›

There are many different types of meetings; here we focus on those used to:
  • Inform.
  • Consult.
  • Solve problems.
  • Make decisions.

What are the four steps of meeting? ›

4 Simple Steps to Planning a Productive Meeting
  • Step 1: Make Sure your Meeting has a Purpose. First, you need to set a goal for your meeting to ensure that it's necessary. ...
  • Step 2: Prepare the Meeting's Structure. ...
  • Step 3: Avoid Common Meeting Pitfalls. ...
  • Step 4: Make Meetings Available Anywhere, Any Time.
Jul 23, 2019

What is a meeting checklist? ›

List decisions that must be made during the meeting. Include space for meeting notes, next steps, and task assignment in your agenda. Create an agenda and share a link to it in a calendar invite. Select the appropriate meeting participants and send the invite.

What are the five golden rules of a successful meeting? ›

Each of the rules requires commitment from all participants.
  • Golden Rule #1: Run your meetings as you would have others run the meetings that you attend. ...
  • Golden Rule #2: Be prepared and ensure that all the participants can be as well. ...
  • Golden Rule #3: Stick to a schedule. ...
  • Golden Rule #4: Stay on topic.

What are the four questions to lead a meeting? ›

To get started, consider these four questions.
  • Why are we gathering? Designing the right structure depends on your purpose — whether it is a one-time event or a recurring meeting. ...
  • Who needs to be here? ...
  • What conversation needs to happen? ...
  • How might we create the conditions for that conversation?
Aug 13, 2020

What makes a bad meeting? ›

According to the Harvard Business Review, a bad meeting is one where participants “meet too often,” where “a few people [are allowed] to dominate conversations”, and where leaders fail “to create an environment where attendees really wrestle with ideas and engage in critical thinking.”

What are effective meeting skills? ›

A productive and effective meeting is one that is conducted in a disciplined manner, with active participation from all representatives resulting in clear action items, an evaluation of the meeting, an agenda for the next meeting, and a sense among the members that their time was well spent.

What are the 5 stages to conduct an effective client meeting? ›

5 Steps to Run an Effective Client Meeting
  • Research your client beforehand. ...
  • Prepare for your meeting. ...
  • Create and stick to the agenda. ...
  • Wrap up the Meeting. ...
  • Meeting follow up‍
Jul 29, 2022


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