How to effectively chair a meeting

Having worked on a variety of projects over the last year I have had the opportunity to witness multiple styles of meetings. The best ones were always well chaired. Someone was in charge and they were *good* at chairing meetings. Recently I was selected to chair a pretty important regular meeting for one of our projects and I wanted to do a great job!

The ability to effectively chair a meeting is a very underrated skill to have — it’s actually really easy to chair a meeting with a few simple guidelines — and it will make you look amazing if you do it right.

After a few experiences, some research, and some great advice I have come up with a list of tips and tricks to help you do a great job of chairing your next meeting!

1. Have a great agenda
A great agenda will allow people to have a free flowing conversation while still staying on track and talking about the most important things on their mind.

Keep like items together if you can. For instance if you are reviewing the timeline for your project, people will naturally want to talk about each item as it comes up, so structure your agenda that way!

2. Know your role as chair
The chair has three very important functions: keeping time, staying on topic, assisting the secretary to record things of importance.

A great meeting is one which uses the time available effectively to discuss the topics at hand (time and topic). But if no one remembers what was said it will have all been for nought.

The chair should assist the secretary by repeating any important risks, decisions, and actions that need to be recorded along with the party responsible for the item

3. Have great minutes and distribute them quickly
Last but not least, it is the chair’s job to make sure that minutes get distributed to the right people in a timely manner. Minutes provide a single source of truth for what happened during the meeting. That way no one will say: “Hey, was I supposed to take care of the thing?” Minutes help people remember what was decided and what their takeaways are. It’s also a great tool for people who weren’t at the meeting!

And that’s it! It’s actually pretty simple once you break it down. Remember, that chairing meetings is a lot like a presentation! So make your next meeting into a masterpiece!

Warm regards,

Aaleem Jiwa

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