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Meetings are the lifeblood of businesses.  They are a great way to collaborate, to share information, and to provide updates.  However, meetings with no guidance, no agenda, or no chairperson can prove to be both ineffective and detrimental to progress.  Chairing a meeting effectively requires a meeting chairperson who has a full understanding of the issues being discussed and can guide the meeting to an effective resolution.

A meeting chairperson may or may not be an official title.  However, if you have been designated as a meeting chairperson, you may wonder how to chair a meeting effectively and in a way that ensures that progress and information are being met.  These skills will be effective in not only your current role, but also future roles and your career success.

The Role of The Chairperson – Before the Meeting

The role of the chairperson varies from company to company.  However, generally the chairperson is meant to guide the meeting effectively and in a way that allows for discussion on agenda items.  The chairperson is responsible for the agenda and the items to be discussed during the meeting.  It is also the responsibility of the chairperson to provide the agenda items before the meeting to the meeting members.

In addition, the chairperson should ensure the meeting room and any additional meeting items are in place and prepared.  Whether this is additional technological needs or presentation decks, it is the responsibility of the chairperson to confirm the items are prepared.

Before the meeting, the chairperson should also confirm that a meeting number is provided and that they arrive early and prepared to begin the meeting on-time.

The Role of The Chairperson – During the Meeting

Within and during a meeting, all discussions should flow through the chairperson, who can act on the information.  The chairperson should have a thorough and full understanding of the agenda items to make an informed decision.  The chairperson should also control the flow of the discussion and ensure that members do not overtake or talk above one-another.

During the meeting, members should look to reach a consensus and agreement on agenda items.  The chairperson should call for a member vote if consensus does not appear to be unanimous.  In addition, the chairperson should look to add in additional amendments or procedural agendas which may be missing.

The chairperson should maintain control and be brief with their language.  They should not look to take up too much time and should ensure the meeting is quick and effective.  During the meeting, they should also ensure quorum is maintained and that other members have flexibility and freedom to speak their minds without fear of interruption.

Lastly, chairing a meeting effectively means that you need to ensure that all members are participating and engaging in the meeting.  The chairperson should encourage all members to speak, particularly as a subject matter expert.  The chairperson should take ideas and opinions and bounce them off others, speaking aloud so all members can provide input and feedback as needed.

The Role of The Chairperson – After the Meeting

As much effort needs to go into the end and completion of the meeting, as does before and during the meeting.  After the completion of the meeting, the chairperson should liaise with the members to ensure action items are successfully completed and being actively worked on.  The chairperson should also discuss with other members on meeting scheduling and setup for the remainder of the year.

More importantly, however, the chairperson should ensure that meeting minutes and a meeting recap is sent to all members.  This meeting recap will discuss and recap what was agreed upon during the meeting.  It will also identify which members have certain action and to-do items for the following meetings.

Role of Members in A Meeting

While the chairperson is ultimately responsible for the meeting and the items needed to run one successfully, no meeting could occur without the input and participation of the meeting members.  However, meeting members should not believe that they do not have any pre-meeting work to complete.  Rather, in order to run a successful meeting, all meeting members should complete the following items.

  • Complete any necessary preparation and ideations
  • Arrive on time
  • Come ready to discuss findings
  • Listen and respond to the participation of other members
  • Avoid and resolve any conflicts which may occur
  • Ask and answer any questions
  • Take notes
  • Come with follow-ups from the previous meeting
  • After the meeting, complete any items which you’re responsible for

How to Ensure Meeting is Not Ineffective

Ineffective meetings are not only a waste of time for all members, but they also hinder progress towards completing the items needed.  In order to ensure that a meeting is not ineffective and a waste of time, members and the chairperson should look to avoid the following items.

  • Ensure that the meeting does not revolve around trivial, petty, unnecessary items
  • Ensure that the meeting provides a clearly defined purpose and reason
  • Ensure that the meeting is appropriately chaired and managed
  • Ensure that the meeting only has necessary participants and is not too large or too small
  • Ensure that decision makers are present and can speak to their portion of the piece
  • Ensure that problems are talked through and not just discussed about
  • Ensure that clear cut decisions are made and enacted
  • Ensure that meeting notes are taken and provided
  • Ensure that appropriate follow-ups are set and met

Conclusion

Chairing a meeting effectively requires being adept at understanding one’s colleagues, the issues being discussed, and the needs of the meeting.  A chairperson should be able to control the meeting, hold members accountable, and provide guidance and action items to move forward on.  The responsibility, however, does not solely rest on the chairperson’s shoulders.  Members should be active participants and look to make the meeting a success.

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