In the accompanying main article “meeting roles”, the purpose of a meeting and which different meeting roles there has been mentioned already. This sub-article discusses what you can expect from a chairman before, during and after the meeting.

“A chairman is by definition a manager or on the board of directors”, this is a common misconception. The chairman structures and directs the meeting(s), but this role has no decision-making power.
As a chairman, you are always in the spotlight and under the magnifying glass during a meeting. The behaviour that you display yourself is often indicative for the behaviour of the other participants. This allows you to set an example and greatly influence the atmosphere and results of the meeting.

Preparation

The (provisional) agenda is drawn up by the chairman. He / she selects agenda items that can be submitted by all participants. It is not just about establishing a sequence or that the timing commitments are correct. It’s about strategy. Which agenda item do you put first, so what is the most important?
You need to be able to clearly substantiate these choices. Why did you select a received document, what information is relevant and what variable agenda items are going to be discussed. At any point in time, you need to be able justify the choices made to the client.
The meeting medium must be determined, for example: by telephone, web conferencing, video call, or face-to-face.
As a chairman you have to determine exactly what you want to achieve with an agenda item and keep this in mind during the meeting. The preparation must also be discussed in advance with the note taker, so that he / she can prepare properly.
The convening of the participants is the duty of the chairman and done through an official invitation. We recommend sending the invitation at least 1 week before the meeting, so that all participants have enough time to prepare properly.

Execution

Then the meeting itself. If all goes well, everyone is well prepared and all participants want a functional and effective meeting. This means that the chairman’s behaviour is activating and inspiring. It now comes down to showing that you intervene at the right times and still safeguard the atmosphere.

You set the tone for the course of the meeting, with the way of steering when the fixed agenda items are discussed. For the participants, confidence is built through clear and transparent argumentation. You state what is and what is not desired during the meeting. It will then be clear to everyone how you, as chairman, expect meetings to be held.

By indicating how much time there is for a topic on the agenda, it becomes easier to intervene during its discussion. Ultimately, everyone likes it when meetings are short. That is why you should insist on an efficient use of time and ensure that everything is done to do so.

You close each agenda item with an informative summary, in which the core is briefly summarized. It should also clearly state who does what and when.

Expect from the chairman to be task-oriented, but also people-oriented. In which all participants are heard and approached in a respectful manner. A pleasant, open atmosphere and appreciation for everyone’s contribution is important during the meeting. The ideal meeting atmosphere is an atmosphere in which solutions are sought together. This is promoted by encouraging constructive additions and comments, and by limiting negative comments.

Aftercare

The meeting is over and the participants know what to do. To ensure that the meeting is completed, the following tasks are:

  • Tidy up the meeting room,
  • Talking about the meeting,
  • Send the minutes of the meeting to all participants,
  • Archiving of documents.

Conclusion

As meeting chair you fulfil an important role in preparing and forwarding the agenda items in advance of the meeting. During the meeting, you provide structure and direction that focuses on the tasks and on the people. Afterwards you ensure a proper completion and you forward the minutes and other relevant information.

If you need help setting up and/or holding effective meetings or if you want to know more about how Cthrough coaching & consulting can help you as an external chairperson, please contact us.

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