All members of a conference are expected to attend plenary sessions

A plenary session or plenum is a session of a conference or deliberative assembly in which all parties or members are present. Such a session may include a broad range of content, from keynotes to panel discussions, and is not necessarily related to a specific style of presentation or deliberation.

The term comes from the Latin word 'plenus' meaning 'gathered', and has come to be used in academic settings, such as conferences, just before, or after, breaking into smaller groups.[1] This can be a time for summarising information, and may encourage class participation or networking.[2]

A plenary 'sitting' may refer to legislative gatherings, such as those held by the European Parliament.[3] In these sessions, if it is not fully attended by members, it must at least achieve a quorum.[3] Likewise, in the General Assembly of the United Nations, a Plenary Meeting requires minimum number of members to continue its procedures; and the same may apply to other groups depending on their charter or bylaws.[4]

Some organisations have standing committees that conduct the organisation's business between congresses, conferences, or other meetings. Such committees may themselves have quorum requirements and plenary sessions. So, Standing Committees of the Northern Ireland Assembly must have a quorum of five members in order for the committee to proceed.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Urquhart, Doug. Up Front and All Alone: a Facilitators Guide. p. 135.
  2. ^ Selskey, John W; van der Heijden, Kees; Ramirez, Rafael, eds. (4 February 2010). Business Planning for Turbulent Times: New Methods for Applying Scenarios. Taylor & Francis. p. 38. ISBN 9781136544187.
  3. ^ a b "How plenary works". About Parliament. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  4. ^ "Plenary Meetings, Rules of Procedure". General Assembly of the United Nations. Retrieved 24 January 2024.
  5. ^ "Northern Ireland Assembly Standing Orders" (PDF). Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. 1998. Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 April 2024.