Top tips for chairing a meeting

The weekly staff meeting is not always as well-received as it should be, despite its importance to a business.
It’s a time to get together with your peers and discuss significant matters at hand, yet the words ‘boring’ and ‘long’ often spring to mind. Here we give you some pointers to chairing a successful meeting.

Provide an agenda 
An agenda helps people stay on point, and helps you as chair to stick to important issues up for discussion, so make sure you hand out a copy to everyone in attendance before the meeting takes place.

Man Getting an Applause for his Presentation

Your peers will therefore know what to expect and how to prepare. This, in turn, should lead to a more productive decision-making process, not to mention save a significant amount of time as you won’t have to explain everything at the beginning.

Stick to a time limit
On the subject of time, you need to set a maximum time limit – be it an hour or 30 minutes – and stick to it. Meetings that overrun can be boring and cause people to switch off, essentially losing their purpose.

That extra 15 minutes you spend in a meeting because of poor planning could be better spent elsewhere, so always cut to the chase instead of beating around the bush. You could do this by limiting participants to a maximum amount of speaking time.

Have a decision-making process in place
The big decisions can sometimes rumble on for hours. Even then no concrete conclusion is always reached. You therefore need to ensure there is a decision-making process in place to provide swift answers.

It can take forever to decide if everyone in attendance has to agree. Try implementing a majority rules system, or just leave it to senior management officials if there are a number of them at the meeting.

Set follow-up deadlines
Towards the end of the meeting, set deadlines for what you want to accomplish in the coming weeks and make sure there is a follow-up process in place to ensure the decisions you reach are carried out to the letter.

The great ideas you come up with will therefore translate into action. You should always finish a discussion by deciding how to act on it. If you don’t do this, what’s the point of holding the meeting in the first place?

Open the floor
Meetings should not be dominated by one voice. They should be all inclusive and consider the opinions of everyone, not just the minority, so open the floor at certain points to encourage discussion.

This also gives people the chance to ask questions, just in case they are unsure about anything on the agenda.

Don’t forget to summarise
It’s essential to wrap up a meeting by summarising the most important points, even if you only spend a few minutes doing so. This ensures all participants understand everything and know what to do next.

Posted by Ashleigh Sharp

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