Chairing a meeting is a leadership role requiring confidence and excellent communication skills. Chairing a meeting requires practice and takes time to develop. In this article, we will look at techniques that will make you a more effective chairperson.
Starting the Meeting on the Right Foot
It is important that the meeting starts on the right foot. Practicing your opening is the best way to become better at it. Over time, you will develop your style, which will be comfortable to you. The following are some guidelines to follow when opening a meeting:
- Open the meeting by welcoming and greeting the participants
- Introduce yourself
- Introduce those attendees that are special guests
- Share the need-to-know things like logistics, bathroom location, fire exits, and general meeting format
- Discuss the purpose of the meeting and give a brief overview of the agenda
- Discuss how the meeting is going to run
The Role of the Meeting Agenda
The meeting agenda plays a vital role without which you are sure to experience time and participant management problems. The following is a list of items the agenda accomplishes:
- The agenda communicates the meeting topics
- It communicates who the presenters are
- Specifies the time allotment for each speaker
- It clarifies the meeting objectives
- Outlines the meeting in increments of time
- Provides a checklist of things to accomplish in the meeting
- Allows attendees to see both the beginning and the end of the meeting
Keeping the Meeting on Track
Clear expectations about how time management will be used in the meeting is a sure way to keep the meeting on track. If expectations are set up out front, it will put the presenters at ease knowing that that they will not be caught off guard. As chairperson, you should also feel confident to interrupt the presenter when necessary. The following are some tips for keeping the meeting on track:
- Set expectations by letting your presenter and attendees know you intend on managing the agenda vigorously.
- Manage the time of your meeting with a timer. Keep to the allotted time for the presentation time as well as the question and answer time. Provide a warning time for the presenters so that they do not have to stop abruptly.
- Do not hesitate to interrupt presenters when it is necessary. When you set expectations upfront, you know that the presenters will expect the interruptions. You should also be ready to call time on questions and answers so that you can move on to the next topic.
- Avoid being harsh but politely warn people that their time is nearly up. To keep the meeting running with plenty of participation, you want to the treat the participants and presenters with respect at all time.
Effectively Dealing With Overtime
If the meeting starts running overtime, you will begin to lose the attention of the attendees. The key to dealing with overtime is to acknowledge before it happens. If you need to go over the time allotted, you need to consider if the room is available for overtime and if there are attendees that have to travel and cannot stay. If you do not deal effectively with overtime, frustration will build among the attendees. Have a plan in place so you know what to do when the meeting runs longer than expected. The following are some tips for effectively dealing with overtime in meetings:
- Warn the attendees well in advance that the meeting will
- Determine how much more time will be needed.
- Communicate the extra time to the attendees.
- In smaller meetings, you can gain consensus whether or not to go into overtime.
- Allow, those who have to leave, time to do so discreetly.
- In the event that overtime is not possible, determine what part of the agenda will be missed and plan an alternative way of getting the information to the attendees.
Holding the Participants Accountable
Keeping your participants accountable involves communication. The following are some of the ways you can hold your participants accountable:
- Set your expectations in advance in the invitation to the meeting. Outline what you expect from them so that you hold them to that expectation.
- Clarify the consequences of not participating and let the participants know how you intend to hold them accountable.
- Follow through on the things you said you would do. It will ensure that you have the respect of the participants, and they will naturally be accountable to you because of your work ethic.