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The 5 Essentials of Chairing Meetings


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A section of a workshop I ran in June 2014 on the essential attributes and activities of a meeting Chair.

The 5 Essentials of Chairing Meetings

  1. 1. Cambridge Judge Business School 5 ESSENTIALS OF CHAIRING MEETINGS Andy Priestner Cambridge Judge 101
  2. 2. ‘Ineffective meetings are almost entirely the fault of ineffective chairs’
  3. 3. 5 Essentials of Chairing a Meeting 1. Stick to a clear agenda 2. Intervene 3. Ensure everyone participates 4. Record action points 5. Keep to time
  4. 4. 1. Stick to a clear agenda
  5. 5. • You’re the pilot of the plane (make it a smooth flight) • Always have an agenda preferably with initials and allotted times (journey plan) • Think about the agenda ahead - what you need to say and when (pre-flight checks) • Writing your introduction to frame the scope of the meeting can be useful (pilot’s announcement) • Clarify purpose, meeting length and intended outcomes (flight length, destination) • Always follow the agenda and bring people back to it (refuse to go off course, but expect turbulence) • Don’t skip about at the whim of others (plane crash!) 1. Stick to a clear agenda
  6. 6. 2. Intervene
  7. 7. 2. Intervene • In order to get through the business of the agenda you will need to intervene: • What is an intervention? Not scolding but redirecting attention • Interventions should feel awkward and uncomfortable • Direct Interventions: ‘<Name> I need you to...’ • Indirect Interventions: or ‘I’ve noticed that’ or ‘I’m aware that...’ • Timing: before (ground rule), during (become impossible to ignore), or after (when you have the floor) • Insert your voice into the meeting Timing of intervention & type of intervention
  8. 8. 3. Ensure everyone participates
  9. 9. • If they don’t contribute what are they doing there? • Overwhelmed by personalities/feeling inferior? • Disengaged, unwilling to help? • Draw them into the meeting directly/identify their value • Goal: equal contribution and common goals (scope) • Defined roles can help 3. Ensure everyone participates
  10. 10. Record Action Points 4. Record action points
  11. 11. Record Action Points • Don’t leave conversations open-ended, ensure all the talking has been worthwhile • Agree an action point • And assign it to someone! • Ensure it’s in the meeting minutes • Remind assignee ahead of the next meeting • Also ensure minutes record key actions and points as you go. Don’t assume this will happen! 4. Record action points
  12. 12. Good time-keeping 5. Keep to time
  13. 13. • Open and close on time • Don’t let any section overrun... • ...if any does then you need a separate meeting, to discuss it afterwards, or add it to the next agenda • Shorter meetings are more effective • Keeps participants focused • Meeting attendees will love you for it 5. Keep to time
  14. 14. Also... • Its not about you, its about getting attendees to share and agree actions. Chairs should be selfless. • Different personalities (beyond introvert and extrovert tags) will affect how people behave and interact in meetings (big picture; focused on the now; on the past; on people and relationships) • If meeting is largely informational could it be an email update instead? • Does everyone need to be there? • Environment is important, as are refreshments • Meetings can be fun as well as productive and professional. Chairs set the tone.
  15. 15. Image Credits (all from Flickr Creative Commons) (Fly For Fun) (Nicholas Eckhart) (kevin dooley) (Ivy Dawned) (Darron Birgenheier)
  16. 16. Andy Priestner @PriestLib