How to conduct a meeting is a required skill for anyone who wishes to be competent in leadership in the workplace, organizations, conferences, or discussions.
Knowing how to conduct a meeting is invaluable for the chairman though can be a challenging task, with some preparation and practice, you can lead a productive and efficient meeting that achieves its objectives.
As the person in charge of the meeting, your role as a chairman is to facilitate the discussion and ensure that all participants have the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas.
To conduct a successful meeting, you will need some basic skills that are needed for an organized and professional atmosphere.
In this article, we will explore how a chairman can conduct a successful meeting and the skills required.
What is a meeting?
A meeting is a gathering of two or more people who come together to discuss or work on a particular topic or agenda.
Meetings can be formal or informal, and they can take place in person, over the phone, or through video conferencing.
Meetings are usually held for the purpose of sharing information, making decisions, solving problems, or collaborating on projects.
Meetings can be scheduled in advance or can be impromptu, depending on the situation.
Effective meetings require good preparation, clear communication, active participation, and a well-defined agenda.
It is the chairman’s duty to set the atmosphere for a successful meeting.
The Position of the chairman is an interesting and responsible one, well within the capacity of anyone who wants to further the cause of his organization and is willing to take the trouble to study the relevant procedure and the right way to conduct a meeting.
The chairman of a meeting, also known as the chair or the presiding officer, is the person who is responsible for leading the meeting and ensuring that it runs smoothly and efficiently.
Chairmanship is a form of art. Like every other art, the chairmanship is developed and improved by training and practice.
The chairman typically opens the meeting, introduces the agenda, calls on participants to speak, and facilitates discussion and decision-making.
He may also be responsible for enforcing meeting rules, maintaining order, and concluding the meeting.
In some cases, the chairman may also have the power to make final decisions on issues that arise during the meeting.
The specific duties and powers of the chairman may vary depending on the organization and the nature of the meeting.
Unconsciously, certain people obviously possess the necessary qualifications for the chairmanship, but it is desirable to look for the following:
- A friendly calm disposition
- Objective and clear thinking
- Good knowledge of the procedure
- Absolute control of temper and good humour
How to conduct a meeting: Qualities of the chairman
Being a chairman is a demanding and responsible role that requires certain qualities and skills. Here are some of the qualities of a successful chairman:
- Leadership: A chairman should possess leadership skills to lead and manage the meeting effectively. This includes decision-making, problem-solving, and the ability to inspire and motivate the team.
- Communication skills: A chairman should be an excellent communicator. This involves the ability to clearly and concisely articulate ideas, listen actively, and communicate effectively with team members.
- Impartiality: A chairman should be impartial and unbiased, ensuring that every member of the team has an equal opportunity to participate and contribute.
- Organization skills: A chairman should have strong organizational skills to plan and manage meetings, set agendas, and ensure that everything runs smoothly.
- Time management skills: A chairman should be able to manage time effectively, ensuring that the meeting starts and ends on time and that all agenda items are covered within the allocated time.
- Problem-solving skills: A chairman should be able to think critically and objectively to solve problems that may arise during the meeting.
- Flexibility: A chairman should be flexible and adaptable to changes that may occur during the meeting.
- Temperament: A calm and even temperament is a great asset in a chairman as this creates a feeling of stability, whereas if there is too much volatility, the reverse is the case. Such a person is also more likely to remain unperturbed by a noisy meeting or difficult committee, and it is often only the efficiency of the chairman which prevents the complete breakdown of a meeting or the disruption of negotiations.
A chairman plays a critical role in ensuring that meetings are successful, productive, and achieve their intended goals.
The chairmanship duties are mainly administrative, whereas the roles of a secretary are executive.
When presiding over a meeting, the chairman is responsible for its conduct, and it is for him to see that the business is properly carried out and that order is kept.
His authority is almost absolute, so it will be appreciated that he should know how to use that authority to his best advantage.
Let us consider the qualities mentioned and others, with a view to understanding how they affect the smooth and efficient running of the organization concerned.
The roles of the chairman
The role of the chairman or chairperson in conducting a meeting is critical to its success. The following are some of the primary responsibilities of a chairman during a meeting:
- Opening the meeting: The chairman starts the meeting by welcoming everyone, introducing the agenda, and stating the purpose of the meeting.
- Ensuring the meeting runs smoothly: The chairman is responsible for keeping the meeting on track, managing time, and ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to speak.
- Facilitating discussion: The chairman facilitates the discussion by encouraging everyone to participate, managing disagreements, and helping the group reach a consensus.
- Summarizing and concluding the meeting: The chairman wraps up the meeting by summarizing the key points discussed, highlighting any decisions made, and outlining any action items that need to be addressed.
- Maintaining decorum: The chairman is responsible for maintaining decorum during the meeting by enforcing meeting rules and ensuring that everyone follows the agenda and stays on topic.
The chairman plays a vital role in keeping the meeting organized, productive, and focused.
ALSO READ: How to Take Minutes in a Meeting
Importance of conducting a meeting effectively
Conducting a meeting effectively is crucial for achieving productive outcomes and making the most of everyone’s time and resources.
Here are some reasons why it’s important to conduct a meeting effectively:
- Time-saving: Meetings take up a significant amount of time in a workday, and an ineffective meeting can waste time and resources. Conducting a meeting effectively ensures that time is used efficiently, and everyone walks away with a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished.
- Achieving objectives: A well-planned meeting helps to achieve objectives and goals and ensures that everyone is on the same page. By establishing clear agendas and action items, attendees know what is expected of them and can work towards achieving specific goals.
- Communication: Meetings are a great way to facilitate communication and collaboration among team members. When conducted effectively, meetings can foster a sense of community, encourage open communication and create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing their ideas.
- Decision-making: Meetings are often held to make decisions, and conducting them effectively can ensure that decisions are made in a timely and thoughtful manner. An effective meeting will provide a platform for open discussion and will allow everyone to contribute to the decision-making process.
- Accountability: Conducting an effective meeting means that everyone is held accountable for their actions and responsibilities. By clearly defining objectives and action items, attendees know what is expected of them and can work towards achieving those goals.
Before the meeting
Before conducting a meeting, it’s important to take the following steps for an effective and productive meeting:
- Determine the purpose of the meeting: Clarify the reason why you are holding the meeting and what you hope to achieve. This will help you to determine the necessary participants, topics to discuss, and how long the meeting should take.
- Set an agenda: Create a detailed agenda that outlines the topics that will be covered during the meeting. Share this agenda with the attendees in advance so that they can prepare accordingly.
- Invite the right participants: Ensure that you invite the necessary people who can contribute to the discussion and decision-making process. Be mindful of not inviting too many people as it may hinder productivity.
- Choose the right time and place: Choose a time and place that works for everyone, taking into consideration different time zones, schedules, and workloads.
- Prepare materials: Prepare any materials that will be necessary for the meeting, such as handouts, presentations, or reports.
- Test technology: If the meeting will be held virtually, test the technology beforehand to avoid any technical issues during the meeting.
- Remind attendees: Send out a reminder email or message to attendees a day or two before the meeting to ensure that everyone is still able to attend and is prepared for the meeting.
By taking these steps before the meeting, you can ensure that everyone is prepared and that the meeting runs smoothly.
During the meeting
During a meeting, there are several things you can do to ensure that it is conducted effectively. Here are some tips:
- Start on time: Start the meeting on time, even if not all attendees are present. This shows that you respect everyone’s time and sets a positive tone for the meeting.
- Stick to the agenda: Stick to the agenda and keep the discussion focused on the topics at hand. This ensures that the meeting stays on track and that all necessary topics are covered.
- Encourage participation: Encourage everyone to participate in the discussion and ensure all voices are heard. This can be done by asking for input, feedback, or ideas from attendees.
- Manage time: Keep an eye on the time and make sure that each agenda item is given the appropriate amount of time. If necessary, move on to the next agenda item to ensure that everything is covered.
- Stay organized: Keep the meeting organized by taking notes and assigning action items. This ensures that everyone knows what is expected of them and can follow up on their tasks after the meeting.
- Summarize key points: Summarize key points and decisions made during the meeting to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This can also be done by sending out meeting minutes or a summary email after the meeting.
- End on time: End the meeting on time and ensure that everyone knows what the next steps are. This ensures that the meeting is productive and that attendees can move on to their following tasks.
By following these tips, you can ensure that the meeting is conducted effectively and that everyone’s time is used efficiently.
After the meeting
After conducting a meeting, it’s important to take the following steps to ensure that it was effective:
- Send out meeting minutes: Send out meeting minutes or a summary email to all attendees. This should include the key points discussed, decisions made, and action items assigned.
- Follow up on action items: Follow up on action items assigned during the meeting to ensure that they are completed in a timely manner. This helps to keep the momentum going and ensures that tasks are completed as intended.
- Evaluate the meeting: Evaluate the meeting to identify what went well and what could be improved. Use this feedback to improve future sessions.
- Thank attendees: Thank attendees for their time and contributions to the meeting. This helps to show that you value their input and encourages future participation.
- Track progress: Track progress on action items and decisions made during the meeting. This helps to ensure that the meeting was productive and that the intended outcomes are achieved.
By taking these steps after the meeting, you can ensure that it was effective and that everyone is on the same page moving forward.
How to conduct a meeting: Basic rules of chairmanship to conduct a meeting
The usual procedure followed at public committee and annual general meetings, conferences, debates, and discussions will be dealt with under the appropriate chapters; but a few universal rules governing all types of meetings may be helpful.
- The chairman by virtue of his office takes precedence over all others present at the meeting which he is presiding.
- He has the final say over any matter of procedure. In a situation where the meeting loses confidence in the chairman, the method to eject him from office is as follows:
A resolution must be moved by a member “That this meeting has no confidence in the chairman”, which must be seconded and put to the meeting – this is usually by the secretary. If the resolution is favoured by a large majority the chairman must vacate the chair.
The meeting will then either close or elect another chairman to complete the business.
This is a very unusual occurrence but provides some measure of protection against inefficiency and an overbearing chairman.
The resolution of “No confidence” operates for one meeting only, but would very probably be followed by the resignation of the chairman; otherwise, a most uncomfortable state of affairs would ensue.
Note that the majority required is a large one.
- The chairman usually has a casting vote, to be used only when the voting for and against the resolution is equal. If he is wise he will use this vote to support the status quo. A resolution carried against such strong opposition seldom operates well, whereas if it is rejected it leaves the situation open and the whole matter can then be re-considered at a subsequent meeting.
- If offering himself for re-election, the chairman should not preside during the actual period when the election is taking place. He should absent himself to allow unhampered discussion, and the vice-chairman or a temporary chairman takes his place. If he is re-elected, he can, if the members so desire, return to the chair to preside over the rest of the meeting.
- The chairman should always stand to address the meeting, except in committees, and even then it is often desirable.
- The chairman should insist that all questions, comments, and observations made by any member of an audience or committee must be addressed to the chairman and not directly to the speaker or to anyone else in the room. Except at a committee meeting, the speaker should stand.
This rule applies to all meetings, and the chairman who fails to enforce it will quickly lose control of the audience.
While being addressed, the chairman should sit down, as the rules of chairmanship do not permit anyone else to speak while he is standing.
This gives him some control over the speakers, as the mere fact of his rising to his feet should enforce immediate silence.
The correct phrase for addressing the chairman is: “Mr. or Madam Chairman, may I ask the speaker …”; Mr. Chairman, will the speaker tell us …”; May I ask through the chair …”; or at a committee meeting, “Mr. Chairman, may I ask …”. The actual wording matters little provided the question is definitely put through the chairman.
Unless the questioner stands, it is almost impossible to see who is speaking. The chairman should be sure that no one wishing to speak is overlooked, as this creates a feeling of frustration and may give offense.
- The appropriate procedure should be used at all times, however small and friendly the meeting is. If members do not know it, they will quickly learn and appreciate the resulting efficiency and saving of time. Members attending business meetings should be expected to know the rules of the organization.
- Meetings should begin punctually and close formally so that everyone is quite clear when the business is concluded.
- The chairman should work in close contact with the secretary. The two offices are complementary, not interchangeable, and the chairman is neither a dictator nor a passenger.
Dos and don’ts of the chairman to conduct a meeting
- Be brief – a long-winded chairman is a menace. Learn to focus on the point of what has to be said and express it clearly and concisely.
- Learn to suffer fools gladly, and avoid impatience or sarcasm, especially with shy and nervous people, as they may be too intimidated to speak again.
- Cultivate a pleasant expression and be careful not to go into a coma when listening to dull speech. Remember, the chairman is in full view of the audience and they will react to his attitude. Audiences resent a careless appearance, so pay particular attention to personal details.
- Avoid fidgeting, as idiosyncrasies and mannerisms divert the concentration of the audience.
In conclusion, the role of the chairman in conducting a meeting is crucial for its success.
The chairman must be well-prepared, neutral, respectful, focused, organized, decisive, and communicative.
By following these basic rules of chairmanship, the chairman can effectively facilitate discussion, and decision-making, and ensure that the meeting achieves its goals within the allotted time frame.
The success of the meeting ultimately depends on the chairman’s ability to manage the meeting effectively while fostering a productive and positive environment for all participants.
Skillsyouneed: Conducting a meeting
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A Personal Development Content Creator and an author. I write about life ethics and love to document and share life hacks and experiences of people to help others make good life decisions.
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