Saturday, 11 December 2010

Chairing Effective Meetings

Hands up everyone who knows what the duties of the Chair at a meeting are?.

Hmm. I can't see many hands. I had best fill you in :-D

As the meeting Chair, your duties are to strategise, plan, organise, lead and control. Does that ring a dark distant bell of remembrance from Management 101? I hope so :-)
  • Strategising - ensure your meeting will get the team several steps closer to achieving their short-, medium- and long-term goals. You should have a strategic item that you discuss each month - such as Values | Mission | Vision | Strategic Plan | Business Plan | Budget etc
  • Planning - think carefully about what needs to be discussed, in order to meet those goals. Set time limits per item, prioritise the discussion items, ensure the team has the required materials and schedule pre-meeting work which needs to be done.
  • Organising - create the agenda based on your planning, ensure everyone gets the materials (including a repeat of the previous minutes) they need prior to the meeting, and know what tasks they need to complete before they come. Send - or delegate sending - reminders for the actions from the last meeting that were due at this meeting. Have a note-taker organised before the meeting.
  • Leading - lead by setting the tone - be there early, greet attendees as they arrive. Host them, have a chat until time for the meeting to start. Perhaps have a 10 minute social time at the beginning to let everyone catch up initially. Check once the meeting starts that everyone is prepared. Postpone discussion on those items which are not appropriately prepared. Follow the agenda. Involve everyone, but give verbose people a time limit. Keep discussion relevant. Park ideas ‘for next time’ if not Keep sense of urgency. Be firm but fair.
  • Controlling - Recap points & decisions. Ensure everyone is aware of what actions they have agreed to, and when they will deliver them by. Ensure incomplete items are carried forward for the next meeting. Set the time for the next meeting. Reward attendees by ending positively. Ensure the note-taker sends out the minutes to you within 24 hours of the meeting, check them (and correct if necessary) and forward on to everyone else. Ensure the actions | responsibilities | due dates in the minutes are clear so everyone understands their tasks.
If you have your finger on the pulse as Chair, your meetings will run well. Because you are clear about what you want to achieve, the team will have time to focus on the important things, and not get bogged down in detail.

Sam

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