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The 5 Essentials of Chairing Meetings

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A section of a workshop I ran in June 2014 on the essential attributes and activities of a meeting Chair.

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The 5 Essentials of Chairing Meetings

  1. 1. Cambridge Judge Business School 5 ESSENTIALS OF CHAIRING MEETINGS Andy Priestner Cambridge Judge 101
  2. 2. ‘Ineffective meetings are almost entirely the fault of ineffective chairs’
  3. 3. 5 Essentials of Chairing a Meeting 1. Stick to a clear agenda 2. Intervene 3. Ensure everyone participates 4. Record action points 5. Keep to time
  4. 4. 1. Stick to a clear agenda
  5. 5. • You’re the pilot of the plane (make it a smooth flight) • Always have an agenda preferably with initials and allotted times (journey plan) • Think about the agenda ahead - what you need to say and when (pre-flight checks) • Writing your introduction to frame the scope of the meeting can be useful (pilot’s announcement) • Clarify purpose, meeting length and intended outcomes (flight length, destination) • Always follow the agenda and bring people back to it (refuse to go off course, but expect turbulence) • Don’t skip about at the whim of others (plane crash!) 1. Stick to a clear agenda
  6. 6. 2. Intervene
  7. 7. 2. Intervene • In order to get through the business of the agenda you will need to intervene: • What is an intervention? Not scolding but redirecting attention • Interventions should feel awkward and uncomfortable • Direct Interventions: ‘<Name> I need you to...’ • Indirect Interventions: or ‘I’ve noticed that’ or ‘I’m aware that...’ • Timing: before (ground rule), during (become impossible to ignore), or after (when you have the floor) • Insert your voice into the meeting Timing of intervention & type of intervention
  8. 8. 3. Ensure everyone participates
  9. 9. • If they don’t contribute what are they doing there? • Overwhelmed by personalities/feeling inferior? • Disengaged, unwilling to help? • Draw them into the meeting directly/identify their value • Goal: equal contribution and common goals (scope) • Defined roles can help 3. Ensure everyone participates
  10. 10. Record Action Points 4. Record action points
  11. 11. Record Action Points • Don’t leave conversations open-ended, ensure all the talking has been worthwhile • Agree an action point • And assign it to someone! • Ensure it’s in the meeting minutes • Remind assignee ahead of the next meeting • Also ensure minutes record key actions and points as you go. Don’t assume this will happen! 4. Record action points
  12. 12. Good time-keeping 5. Keep to time
  13. 13. • Open and close on time • Don’t let any section overrun... • ...if any does then you need a separate meeting, to discuss it afterwards, or add it to the next agenda • Shorter meetings are more effective • Keeps participants focused • Meeting attendees will love you for it 5. Keep to time
  14. 14. Also... • Its not about you, its about getting attendees to share and agree actions. Chairs should be selfless. • Different personalities (beyond introvert and extrovert tags) will affect how people behave and interact in meetings (big picture; focused on the now; on the past; on people and relationships) • If meeting is largely informational could it be an email update instead? • Does everyone need to be there? • Environment is important, as are refreshments • Meetings can be fun as well as productive and professional. Chairs set the tone.
  15. 15. Image Credits (all from Flickr Creative Commons) http://www.flickr.com/photos/flyforfun/2824282566/ (Fly For Fun) http://www.flickr.com/photos/fanofretail/14104564738/ (Nicholas Eckhart) http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/6861256042/ (kevin dooley) http://www.flickr.com/photos/ivydawned/4756812558/ (Ivy Dawned) http://www.flickr.com/photos/darronb/8646458244/ (Darron Birgenheier)
  16. 16. Andy Priestner ap547@cam.ac.uk @PriestLib