How to chair Meetings well.

Introduction

1 Most meetings waste many minutes for those who attend. Just think of the improvement in productivity if people could eliminate only half of this wasted time.

2 While the cause lies in many areas, poor chairing of meetings contributes more than most.

3 Thus Chairpersons should examine their own behaviour by answering the following questions.

Questions

4 When you announce an agenda item or a new topic, do you put your own view first?

5 On at least half the occasions, immediately after a Meeting Member has contributed something, do you make some comment?

6 Do you believe that you talk for more than thirty per cent of the time of a meeting?

7 Do you allow two or more conversations to occur at once?

8 Do you lack a system that allows one Member to indicate to you, without disturbing the current Speaker, that he or she wishes to make a contribution?

9 Having arranged for some such system, do you then ignore the signal that you have acknowledged?

     10 Example.You arrange for Members to indicate their desire to contribute by raising their hands. You nod to the person to acknowledge you have seen the signal but then fail to ensure that the person gets the chance to contribute in his/her correct turn.

11 Do you take votes when people do not understand the issue on which they vote?

12 Do you call for a Yes vote without inquiring how many want to vote No?

13 Do you fail to have a motion written down and read out before taking a vote?

14 Do you allow the meeting to consider a proposition that consists of two parts so that a Member cannot vote one way on one part and a different way on the other part?

15 Do most of your contributions relate to the topics on the Agenda as compared with the procedure that the meeting should take?

16 Do you feel annoyed that the meeting has decided something that you oppose?

17 When a Meeting Member (i.e. not in the Chair) , have you failed to observe other Chairpersons and failed to identify what they do that annoys you and makes you feel so frustrated that you feel like not coming to the next meeting?

Conclusion

18 If you have answered “Yes” to over half of the above questions, you have a wonderful opportunity to:

     (a) improve your chairing of meetings

     (b) improve the productivity of your Organisation

     (c) improve the happiness of other people.

19 However, probably you will NOT grasp these opportunities unless you accept that a Chairperson should take the role of “servant of the meeting members” – not an autocratic dictator.

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