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Let’s talk about …. Mastering the Art of Chairing effective Meetings


In the realm of leadership, one crucial skill that often goes underappreciated is the ability to effectively chair meetings. The role of a Chair is not as simple as it may seem, as it requires careful consideration of various factors. Having worked with numerous leaders, teams and groups, supporting them to run effective and powerful meetings, I thought it may be useful to explore the art and skill of chairing meetings and provide a quick checklist to help leaders hone their skills and navigate this important responsibility.  Meetings have three clear phases, a beginning, a middle and an end. Make sure you attend to each.


1. Create and share a Clear, Agreed Agenda:

A well-defined agenda sets the tone for a productive meeting. It ensures that everyone knows what to expect and can come prepared. By sharing the agenda in advance, participants have the opportunity to review and reflect on the topics at hand, fostering more meaningful contributions during the meeting.


2. Invite Only Those Who Need to Be There:

To maintain efficiency, it is crucial to invite only the individuals who are directly involved or have a significant stake in the meeting's outcomes. This ensures that everyone's time is respected and that discussions remain focused and relevant.


3. Encourage Challenges to Attendance:

Allow participants the freedom to challenge their own attendance if they feel they may not contribute meaningfully. This empowers individuals to take ownership of their time and prioritizes active engagement over mere presence.


4. Provide Necessary Information in Advance:

To facilitate well-informed discussions, share relevant information or materials before the meeting. This allows participants to review and digest the content, enabling more thoughtful contributions during the session.


5. Consider the Meeting Environment:

Ensure that the meeting space is conducive to open communication and collaboration. Arrange seating so that everyone is able to see and engage with one another comfortably. If you are holding the meeting virtually, ensure everyone has their cameras switched on, as far as possible.  If cameras aren’t switched on, be clear and gain agreement on  how you will ensure their contribution is included.  A conducive environment promotes active participation and fosters a sense of equality among attendees.


6. Manage Time and Contributions:

As the meeting chair, it is essential to keep track of time and ensure that discussions progress smoothly. Allocate appropriate time for each agenda item, and encourage active participation from all attendees. Make space for diverse perspectives, ensuring that everyone's voice is heard and respected.


7. Clarify the Meeting's Purpose:

Clearly define the purpose and desired outcomes of the meeting. This helps participants align their contributions and ensures that discussions remain focused and productive. If the meeting veers off track, gently guide the conversation back to the intended purpose or assess whether the diversion serves a constructive purpose.


8. Be Attuned to the Energy in the Room:

Develop your sensory acuity and pay attention to the energy and dynamics within the meeting. Notice if someone appears lost, angry, or upset, and take the initiative to address their concerns. Ensuring everyone feels seen, heard, and valued contributes to a more inclusive and effective meeting environment.


9. Be the Conductor and the musician:

Like a conductor leading an orchestra, a meeting chair orchestrates the contributions and involvement of all participants. Ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute at the right time and in the right manner. Guide discussions, encourage collaboration, and maintain a harmonious flow throughout the meeting.  You may find yourself needing to contribute to the meeting, being a musician as well as the conductor, in which case ensure that you remain focused on both parts.


10. Summarise and Confirm Decisions:

As the meeting draws to a close, summarise the key points discussed and decisions made. Ensure that everyone is aligned and clear on the outcomes and any actions to be taken. This solidifies accountability and provides a clear roadmap for moving forward.


Mastering the art of chairing effective and powerful meetings is an essential skill for leaders. By following this checklist, leaders can go some way to creating an environment that promotes engagement, collaboration, and productivity. Effective chairing enhances decision-making, strengthens teamwork, and drives organisational success. Embrace the role of a meeting chair with confidence, and watch as your meetings become transformative experiences for all involved.


If you found this article useful, please help others by sharing this with your colleagues, connections and friends and follow me for more tips and insights in the future.


Contact me directly if you’d like to have a chat about anything specific that you find tricky about Chairing Meetings, or any questions you may have. Connect with me on LinkedIn, or via my email alli@allisonspargo.com


Best wishes as always

Allí

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