Monday, September 12, 2011

How to Chair Meetings Effectively

A chair should learn how to chair meetings effectively and decisively. Chairmanship is a unique skill worth practicing and nurturing.

Chairmanship is a learned skill. It has to be practiced and perfected. A chair is considered successful when he provides opportunity for everyone to be heard, gives appropriate rulings and protects the minority while abiding by the majority decisions.

Ten Commandments for the Chair

  1. Be Prepared. The number one rule for effective chairmanship is to be prepared well in advance for the meeting. He should, with the help of the secretary of the organization, draft an agenda for the meeting which reflects the purpose of the meeting. He should see to it that all committees and subcommittees are given equal chances to be heard without hindrance. He should contact the chairs of various committees and check what they are going to deliver. Prioritize the items according to importance. If some topics are current, motivate the concerned committees to present their reports. Spread the agenda evenly to provide for everyone to be heard. Being prepared will enable the chair to guide the meeting in the proper direction rather than allow it to drift aimlessly. Adhering to proper formal meeting procedures by the chair will uphold democratic principles and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the procedures.
  2. Be Prompt. Prompt responses to the members’ opinions and suggestions are very important in keeping the meetings under control. Use common sense. Never let the discussion linger on. Never let things get out of your command.
  3. Be Punctual. A chair should be the first to arrive at the meeting place. He should realize that time is very precious. A chair must insist that meetings start on time and end on time. Frivolous discussion should be discouraged.
  4. Be Strict. A chair should be strict without being rude. Always see to it that the rule and decorum of the organization are observed by the members. Never allow personal attacks and ego boosting performances by the members.
  5. Be Impartial. Many a times, the discussions may reach a point where the chair will have to make a ruling depending on the preceding discussions. The general trend of the discussion may have gone against the chair’s own conviction. But the majority should always be given weightage. Chair may mention his reservations while proclaiming his rulings, though.
  6. Be Honest . Being honest and open is the best virtue for a chair. Even though the chair has to stick with the majority decision, the chair will be respected if he reveals his own caliber and credibility.
  7. Be Rational. Common sense and reasoning can be of great virtues for a chair. A rational chair will be efficient in judging the members’ moods and guiding the discussion in the appropriate direction.
  8. Be Humorous. A humorous chair can convert the most monotonous meeting into a colorful and enjoyable experience. The humor should be spontaneous and well timed.
  9. Be Current. Keep updated on the current affairs of the organization, the society, the nation and the world. This will come handy during the discussions.
  10. Be Knowledgeable. Above all, the chair should have a sound knowledge of the parliamentary procedures and rules governing the conduct of a meeting. He should have the Robert’s Rules of Order on his fingertips to guide the meeting in the desired direction. A basic knowledge about different types of motions will be a useful tool while chairing a meeting.

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