When meetings run smoothly, stay on track with the agenda and finish on time they make effective Chairing of a meeting look like a simple task. This is not always the caseand can take great skill to achieve this, especially if the attendees in the meeting are not familiar with each other or have varying personality traits. This blog post shares some of my experiences and skills in how to effectively Chair, lead and hold a meeting.
- The Chairperson
- What makes a meeting ineffective?
- How to effectively Chair a meeting:
- During the meeting
- Ending the meeting
- After the meeting
- How Busy Lives can help
A Chairperson is the leader of a meeting. Their role is to ensure the meeting runs smoothly and its goal is met. As the leader all participants should address their comments and concerns to the chairperson, and they should ensure all disagreements are resolved. One of the key responsibilities of the Chair is to ensure that the agenda is covered and that the meeting doesn’t swerve off into a different direction. Additionally, the chairperson should ensure all participants contribute to the meeting and no one dominates the meeting.
The Chairperson should also end the meeting by arranging a date for the next meeting.
What makes a meeting ineffective?
Every meeting should achieve something. If your meeting does not have a goal, then it is unnecessary. When you hold an unnecessary meeting, you may find people become bored and valuable time is wasted.
Another thing which can make a meeting ineffective is if the Chairperson over exerts their authority. If the Chairperson stops people from giving opinions and refuses to listen to others, then the meeting will not end with a unified decision and may be met with resistance.
On the flip side of this if the Chairperson does not exert enough control then the meeting may spiral out of control and you may find a couple of people dominate the proceedings or the agenda isn’t covered.
Having too many people in a meeting can also reduce its effectiveness as valuable opinions and comments may be lost in the sea of voices.
So, how can you avoid these pitfalls?
How to effectively chair a meeting
Preparation is key. Making sure you are prepared for your meeting will not only give you a professional image but will also ensure your meeting runs smoothly.
See my blog ‘Preparing for Important Meetings’ to ensure you are fully prepared. But in brief terms, to ensure you are prepared make sure you:
- An objective / goal clearly defined.
- Have reserved a time and place for you meeting with invitations, related paperwork and an agenda sent out at least two weeks ahead of time.
- Have read or researched thoroughly all the information which is going to be discussed.
Before the meeting is due to start familiarise yourself with the participants. Identify their strengths and weaknesses. Doing this means you can call on particular people for their insight in certain discussions but also be sensitive to their weaknesses and know when they will want to take a backseat in discussions.
- Don’t try to both Chair and be the minute / note taker at any meeting you lead. To effectively Chair you need to be concentrating fully on the agenda, discussions and the people around the table. If possible always have a minute taker.
During the meeting
As the Chair of the meeting it is your responsibility to move the meeting through the agenda and draw conclusions from discussions and set appropriate actions assigning specific people to each action.
It is a good idea to open any meeting with the setting of ground rules and any introductions of they are required.
Ones which I commonly use are:
- Please don’t speak or have your own conversation whilst someone else is addressing the meeting.
- Please ensure your mobile phones are either switched off or on silent mode.
- Make it clear if questions will be taken during or at the end of an agenda item.
- Make it clear that you would like everyone to contribute throughout the meeting and that your opinion and thoughts maybe called upon to share.
- Please don’t interrupt someone who is already talking to the group.
If relevant give everybody the opportunity to introduce themselves and what they do.
Throughout the duration of the meeting you, as the chair, should actively listen to every participant of the meeting and encourage every person to contribute with every discussion.
- If you are not familiar with everyone at the meeting have a piece of paper in front of you and quickly draw the table shape and jot down the names as people introduce themselves.
- A method I commonly use which works well if there are some strong personalities at the meeting, is to inform the group that I will invite each person in turn to share their opinion to a question raised when relevant. The easiest way to ensure you don’t miss someone out is to rotate from where you are sat in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction.
It is also vital for the Chairperson to remain neutral in all discussions and ensure any arguments reach amicable solutions. It is also important for the Chair to ensure everyone is involved in the meeting and no one is overshadowed.
The Chair should also not use their position to dominate the meeting or impose their own views.
As the Chair you also need to ensure the meeting runs on time and follows the agenda.
Ending the meeting
End the meeting by:
- Summarising the key points achieved and agreed upon.
- Any items raised which will now become agenda items at a future meeting.
- Reinforce any actions / tasks with the specific people who are following through on these and by when.
- Set the next meeting date and time if required.
- Thank the participants for attending and their contributions.
- State that the meeting has now formally ended.
After the meeting
After the meeting is over ensure you follow up with any relevant materials – for example sending out copies of any minutes / notes taken during the meeting.
Also, ensure that any tasks you set during the meeting are followed through with individuals – this could be done via email or in person. Doing this can ensure there is no confusion over who is doing what and all tasks are done in good time.
How Busy Lives! can support you with this
Busy Lives! was created when I left a busy career that left me time poor and not able to give sufficient priority to what really mattered to me. I now provide a wide range of business support for people in that position.
I am happy to help by:
- Helping you prepare for an important meeting.
- Composition and circulation of any agenda and related documentation before your meeting.
- Chairing your meeting so that you can concentrate on also contributing within the meeting.
- Minute taking during the meeting so that you can concentrate on achieving your goal.
Let you help you gain precious time back. Ring Busy Lives! 07565 722 031
Drop me a message on LinkedIn / Messenger on Facebook
Or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org