What exactly is Protocol?
The term “Protocol” comes from the Greek words Proto Kollen meaning “The First Glue”, and indeed it may be said that protocol is the glue which holds life in our society together. Whether in the local, state, national or international level, proper protocol is vital to assure that relations between officials of organizations and governments are conducted with a minimum of friction and maximum of efficiency.
Protocol is the practice of etiquette and ceremony. It is the practice of social graces, simple amenities, common courtesy, tact and diplomacy that will create a positive and lasting impression.
Do we really need protocol or is it just out-dated?
One cannot deny that things have become more casual in our work places, our organizations and our lives. Just as Parliamentary Procedure is important in conducting a meeting, protocol has its place in promoting orderly procedure and good relations among members. No matter how casual we become, good manners never go out of style. Guests and your officers should be treated with the good manners of respect. Protocol gives you the rules necessary to accomplish this.
How do we use protocol in our club?
As the presiding officer you should learn the proper rules of protocol. When in doubt use good judgement. Protocol also means courtesy so treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. The etiquette of the presiding officer establishes the reputation, effectiveness and success of the organization. She sets an example in fairness, courtesy, and operation under the rules for her organization showing partiality for none and equal justice for everyone.
For your regular Business Sessions you should call for your officers’ reports as they are listed in your Bylaws. You do not need to have all of your officers at the Head table if your group is small. You never want your Head Table to be larger than your audience.
If you are having a Guest Night you should make sure you have the right person in the right place at the right time. Your Head Table, facing the audience, should have the presiding officer in the center. The highest ranking officer goes to her right, the next highest goes to her left. You then alternate back and forth. However, when you introduce those seated at the Head Table you introduce all those on your left hand side first and then all of those seated on your right hand side. The highest ranking officer should be introduced last especially if she is speaking.
You present any person the audience knows and introduce any person they do not know.
If one of those seated at the Head Table is going to be speaking you may skip their introduction and tell the audience that they will be speaking later. You do not need to seat everyone at your Head Table. Some may be placed at special tables in the front of the room. You should also use Name Cards with the names printed on both sides for the Head Table.
How do we determine rank?
The level of offices and positions are as follows: At a state event: State President, GFWC President, GFWC Director of Junior Clubs, Ranking Government Official, Speaker of the Day, GFWC Officers, Regional Officers, State Officers, GFWC Chairmen and Committee Members, District Officers, District Chairmen, Club Officers and then Club Chairmen. For those fitting into more than one category assign their highest rank.
These resources can be accessed by clicking on the links above or going to http://www.gfwc.org, click “GFWC Resources”, then “P”.
If you are participating in Opening Ceremonies you should make sure that you are up front and ready to go when the Presiding Officer calls the meeting to order. Remember that it is God before Country, National Anthem and then Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America. However if you are doing a patriotic song it comes after the Pledge. You never do the Pledge if there is no Flag present. You do not use a substitute, like a flag pin on someone’s lapel. The Flag should be placed to the right of the Presiding Officer as she faces the audience. Portable podium-top sized American and GFWC flags are available from the GFWC Marketplace.
Opening Ceremonies at the GFWC Convention
Remember that you are representing your state or region and you should dress accordingly. Pant suit, dress, skirt and jacket and proper shoes are acceptable. This is a formal ceremony and the processional should be in keeping with the ceremony.
Processionals and Receiving Lines
If your State/and or Club does processionals, as the presiding officer, you can decide if you want the lowest ranking to come in first or the highest ranking, but then everyone should process according to rank.
For a Receiving Line, Officers line up according to their rank – highest first. It is courteous to have a Hostess Chairman present everyone to the President and to keep the line moving. The Guest of Honor stands next to the President. Receiving Lines should not be excessively long.
If you are inviting a Guest of Honor, it is important to treat them as a guest. Do not invite them at the last minute. If they have a responsibility let them know what it is, how long it is and where they are in the program and how long you expect the event to last. Assign them a hostess and let them know about how to dress. Remember they are guests so you should treat them as you would someone in your own home. Don’t forget to follow up with a thank you note.
If you are a guest always be prepared with a greeting or a speech even though you were not told that you would be called on. Another good idea is to make sure you always have a Grace with you just in case.
Protocol brings consistency and organization to your meetings. It is indeed the glue that holds us together. Remember to treat others as you would like to be treated and everything will work out just fine.
Written by: Dorothy Lowe Greene, Protocol Chairman – 2018-2020 Administration
Annie Williams started her GFWC journey in 2011 and she immediately fell in love with her club and the women working alongside her.
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