According to Robert's Rules of Order, a widely used guide to parliamentary procedure, a meeting is a gathering of a group of people to make decisions. This sense of "meeting" may be different from the general sense in that a meeting in general may not necessarily be conducted for the purpose of making decisions.
Each meeting may be a separate session or part of a group of meetings constituting a session. Meetings vary in their frequency, with certain actions being affected depending on whether the meetings are held more than a quarterly time interval apart. There are different types of meetings, such as a regular meeting, special meeting, or annual meeting. Each meeting may have an agenda, which lists the business that is to come up during the meeting. A record of the meeting is summarized in the minutes.
A session is a meeting or series of connected meetings devoted to a single order of business, program, agenda, or announced purpose. An organization's bylaws may define a specific meaning of the term "session." In most organizations, each session consists of only a single meeting (i.e. "session" and "meeting" are equivalent terms in this case).
The significance of a session is that one session generally cannot make decisions that bind a group at a future session. A session has implications for the renewability of motions. The same or substantially the same question cannot be brought up twice in the same session except by means of the motions that bring a question again before the assembly.
A quarterly time interval represents a time limitation on the taking or postponement of certain actions. No more than a quarterly time interval between two sessions exists when "the second session begins at any time during or before the third calendar month after the calendar month in which the first session ends." For example, if a meeting takes place in January, the other meeting is within a quarterly time interval when the previous meeting is on or after October 1 of the preceding calendar year or when the next meeting occurs on or before April 30 of the current year.
A motion may not be postponed to the next meeting if that meeting is scheduled for more than a quarterly time interval away. If a body's next meeting is more than a quarterly time interval away, it is customary to appoint a board or committee to approve the minutes of the current meeting. A motion which has been laid on the table at a meeting and not taken from the table before the end of the meeting will die if the next meeting is more than a quarterly time interval away, whereas if the next meeting is within a quarterly time interval, the motion may be taken from the table at that meeting.
Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised describes the following types of meetings:
A "call" of the meeting is a notice of the time and place which is sent in advance to inform the members. Usually the secretary of the organization is responsible for sending out the call. The call may also include an agenda or a listing of items of business to come up at the meeting. Organizations may have a requirement of how much notice is needed for the call. For example, a call may be required to be sent at least 30 days in advance of the meeting.
This sense of a "call" of the meeting is distinct from "calling the meeting to order", which means that the meeting is beginning.
An agenda is a list of meeting activities in the order in which they are to be taken up, beginning with the call to order and ending with adjournment. It usually includes one or more specific items of business to be acted upon. It may, but is not required to, include specific times for one or more activities.
Organizations have their own rules on conducting meetings. Most organizations in the United States use Robert's Rules of Order as a supplemental guide to their rules. Outside of the United States, organizations may follow rules that are similar to those in Parliament.
Minutes, also known as protocols or, informally, notes, are the instant written record of a meeting or hearing. They typically describe the events of the meeting and may include a list of attendees, a statement of the issues considered by the participants, and related responses or decisions for the issues.