THE saying ‘treat others how you would expect to be treated’ comes into play when you are chairing a meeting. Interpersonal skills are the key to making it a success and participants need to be given respect and consideration.
That doesn’t mean it has to be like a friendly chat between mates! Be business like, and firm. You will find some people need to speak up a bit more – and others you might need to tell to shut up! So don’t let people who like the sound of their own voice dominate proceedings – sometimes the quiet ones have better ideas and opinions that you need to draw out of them. Avoid putting people on the spot, though, instead, gently encourage them to give their views. Keep the meeting on track by discouraging those who digress away from the subject with lengthy contributions you could do without.
Be careful to add a summary every so often, particularly when what has been offered up from the floor may not have been fully understood by all in the room. Perhaps a couple of snappy sentences so everyone is able to follow the discussion. Use clear, simple language and try to ensure contributors spell out their message more clearly if jargon is used. Otherwise others will switch off quickly – while some may need a nudge to wake them up!
Make sure your concluding remarks are memorable. Summarise points, identify conclusions reached, agree action points, and thank people for their attendance. If possible, finish on a positive note as that’s what will be remembered.
Where meetings are concerned it’s all about preparation, preparation, preparation. Without it, you will be found wanting – and those attendees who sat through it won’t want to listen to you again.