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How to Chair a Meeting

How to Chair a Meeting

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.

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How to Effectively Plan and Prepare for Your Meeting

How to Effectively Plan and Prepare for Your Meeting

Your planning and preparation activity is vital to the success of your meeting. In the planning and preparing phase you will be defining the purpose of your meeting, the people who should attend, and the place of the meeting. Planning and preparing for your meeting helps to reduce the stress that may result from managing a meeting.

Determining the Meeting Participants

Determining your meeting participants is an important planning step. Who attends your meeting could help or hinder the meeting dynamics. Think about the purpose of the meeting to help determine who you should invite. For example, if you are meeting to resolve a problem, invite only those who are capable of providing solutions to the problem. Having people who cannot contribute to the meeting will exclude them and affect the meeting environment. The following are some common reasons to call a meeting:

  • Problem solving
  • Decision making
  • Conflict resolution
  • Project initiation
  • Planning
  • Brainstorming

Once you determine your meeting purpose, you can list all the names of the participants you wish to attend. Once this list is created, then determine what each participant will contribute to the meeting. If a participant is deemed a non-contributor, they should be removed from the list. When all non-contributors are removed, you should have a good list of participants for your meeting.

Planning the Time and Place of the Meeting

There are several considerations you must address when planning the time and place of your meeting. For instance, the time of day is important if your meeting is meant to be a brainstorming session or problem-solving meeting. Setting these types of meetings right after lunch or late in the day could be a frustrating experience. Choosing the correct venue for your meeting is essential to its success. Try to schedule your meeting in a well-lit spacious room. If the meeting topic is of a sensitive nature, then getting a room with privacy will make participants more comfortable to discuss the issue.

Creating the Meeting Agenda

  • Seek topics from your participants. Send an email to the list of participants you created, asking for agenda topics. Give a brief explanation of the purpose of the meeting and an idea of what you are looking for in terms of topics.
  • Organize the topics into a list. Once you receive the topics, organize them into a list along with the time and the name of the presenter. This will give you the ability to scan through the list, narrowing it down to the topics you will select for the agenda.
  • Assess which topics are relevant to the meeting purpose. Scratch out those topics you do not intend to use.
  • Pick the number of relevant topics that will fit your meeting time. Review the time of the remaining topics. Select the enough topics to fill the time of your meeting minus ten minutes. Give yourself ten minutes for meeting overrun. If you go over, you will end on time. If you do not, then you get to adjourn your meeting early, making everyone happy.

Gathering the Materials for the Meeting

You need to determine which materials you need for the meeting and acquire them in advance.

  • Stationary: this is all the paper you will need at the meeting. It includes notepads, sticky notes, index cards, envelopes, tape, paper clips, folders, and flip chart.
  • Handouts: many times you or your presenters will need to distribute handouts. There could be a worksheet or an outline from an electronic presentation. Consult with your presenters and acquire any handouts they may use.
  • Organizer: Using an organizer like a portable accordion file is an easy way to file your handouts and other stationary materials in one container. The filing system will allow you to file the documents in an orderly fashion, making distribution of the materials more professional.
  • Writing tools: this includes pens, markers, highlighters, and dry erase markers you may need for your meeting.
  • Special requests: from time to time, your presenters may make a special request. An example could be a poster. Ask your presenters ahead of time for special requests.

Sending Meeting Invitations

It is essential to have a consistent and clear method of structuring your meeting invitation:

  • The purpose of the meeting must be stated up front. Be specific with your purpose and attach the meeting agenda to the invitation.
  • The time and place where the meeting should be determined ahead of time and included in the invitation. Provide clear instruction on the exact location.
  • Create a sense of binding agreement by setting expectations, so you get the most responses as soon as possible with a level of commitment. Include a cancellation

Making Logistical Arrangements

There are several areas where you should be planning the logistics of the meeting:

  • Consider the space in which you plan to hold your meeting.
  • Identify who will need to travel to your meeting.
  • Determine if you need to organize meals.
  • Arrange audio and visual equipment for the meeting.
  • Do you need signs and posters for the meeting?

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