How to Chair meetings
What are the Chairperson’s main responsibilities?
• Getting the meeting through all business in the time allotted.
• Making sure it is clear what decision have been made.
• Making sure it is clear who is going to do what tasks.
• Keeping the meeting in order – stopping interruptions and irrelevancies, and allowing everyone to be heard.
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How to chair meetings
How to chair meetings
You will need an agenda to help you organise the business to be discussed at the meeting.
If the meeting is very small and informal, you could simply agree on the agenda at the start of the meeting.
If the meeting is larger or more formal, or you want to let people know in advance what you will be discussing, you will need to prepare an agenda before the meeting. Sometimes the Chair and Secretary do this together.
The sample agenda below shows you what items are usually included in an agenda.
1. Apologies for absence.
2. Minutes of last meeting – agree these are a correct record.
3. Matters arising from the minutes of the last meeting.
5. Treasurer’s report.
6. Any other business.
7. Date of next meeting.
It is useful to have a record of everyone who was at the meeting, so pass round a piece of paper for people’s names and addresses.
Some helpful tips
• Keep the meeting in order
• The Chair’s job is easier if some basic rules about how meetings should work have been agreed beforehand.
• Make sure everyone’s view is heard
• In larger or formal meetings it is usual to ask people to speak ‘through the Chair’. This means putting their hand up and waiting until the Chair tells them it is their turn.
• In smaller meetings you may want to be more informal, but you still need to ensure everyone gets a chance to speak. Some people find it more difficult to talk at meetings, be aware of this and try to make it easier for them. On the other hand, some people like to talk all the time and you may need to be firm about stopping them.
• It can be helpful to ask if there is anyone who hasn’t spoken yet. Sometimes it works well to go round everyone in turn, asking them what they think about a particular issue.
• Before a decision is made, or you move onto the next item of business, check everyone has had their say.
• Don’t let people interrupt all the time. This can be really frustrating for the person who is trying to talk and can lead to frayed tempers.
• Getting through business
• Keep an eye on the time and remind the rest of the meeting.
• If it is clear you are not going to get through all the business, suggest that some items are left until next time.
• It is always better, if possible, to give a clear suggestion, rather than say something vague which leads to endless debate.
• Drawing it all together
• At the end of the discussion, summarise the main points and decisions.
• If the meeting has agreed to do something, make sure you have also decided who is responsible for doing it.
• Make sure the minute taker has had the time to take down the decision and who will do it.
Some things to avoid
• Don’t use your position to push your views.
• Don’t talk too much yourself.
• Don’t allow one person to do all the talking.
• Don’t ignore people who want to speak.