As a manager or executive-level worker you will obviously face moments when you need to chair a meeting. If this is the case, be prepared. Chairing a meeting involves former preparation and should never be taken lightheartedly. If you turn up ill-prepared, this will reflect negatively on you and you will appear disorganized.
It is essential that you are able to professionally chair a meeting in order to reach agreements and come to some sort of conclusion throughout the course of the meeting. If you are unable to chair a meeting properly, it will become chaotic and unproductive, with people speaking in a disorderly and unmanageable manner.
If you need to chair a meeting, the first step is to establish exactly who will be present. Ensure that the meeting is correctly scheduled at a time that suits all members.
Write an agenda that each member of the attendees is given access to 24 hours before the meeting. This will give them time to review the purpose of the meeting and prepare any questions or points for review.
Chairing a meeting, the right way
As a chairman it is your responsibility to maintain complete control throughout the meeting, ensure that the meeting meets its aims and is conducted smoothly. The role of the chairman is to act as a judge in a court, so you need to remain completely impartial throughout.
Assertiveness skills are also of paramount importance, as everybody needs to be heard at some point and if you are discussing contentious issues, you will need to be firmer without being rude or dogmatic, if the meeting gets out of hand. You can use phrases such as: “Let’s hear from ... now”, or, “Can we have some comments from the IT department on this”. Do not allow any interruptions while the next individual is speaking.
Stick to the agenda
All too often in a meeting it is easy to run off course, particularly as more and more issues and topics are thrown into the equation. Stick to the agenda as much as possible, as other topics for concern can be discussed in a further meeting.
It is your responsibility to take control of the situation and act as a guide throughout the meeting. As you work your way through each point within the agenda, keep track of how much time is being spent on each area, and do not allow one individual to overrun the meeting by sticking to one topic for too long. To round up, you might need to call for a decision to be made, so as to avoid going round in circles. On the other hand, it is essential to remain alert at all times and dedicate enough time to each issue.
Summarizing the meeting
As you work your way through the meeting you should summarize each topics it comes to an end. This will avoid the need for discussion at the end of the meeting. To effectively summarize you will need to actively listen throughout the meeting. Summarizing is a skill that takes practice, but over time will become well developed.
Remember that chairing a meeting is a skill that takes time to perfect. Doing your research and being organized beforehand will help you significantly prior to chairing your first meeting.