How to effectively chair a meeting

25/03/19

Hosting a meeting can be daunting. A room full of people all looking to you. A room of people who want to be informed whilst simultaneously entertained. People want to leave a meeting feeling enriched and engaged, and that’s all down to the speaker. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your topic is, you hold the power in your hands to hold a successful, or not so much, meeting. Here I will be talking about some of the basics on holding an effective meeting that you and your audience will enjoy.

 

The meeting starts before you’ve even arrived at the venue, with the all-important planning. They say that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail, and this is ultimately true. Begin by sitting down and preparing some notes. Why am I holding this meeting? What do I want to achieve? Make some points about what you’d like to discuss and decide whether you need to carry out any additional research to do this successfully. Your audience will be more engaged if you are backed up by a few facts. It doesn’t need to be too rigid but by preparing an agenda you can ensure the meeting runs smoothly, is the right length and covers all points. Decide what you would like to say and the rough timings, leaving enough time for question and discussion.

 

Be sure to organise a venue that is the right size for the number of guests you plan to have. No one wants to be cramped but additionally a few guests in a space too large won’t set the right mood for the meeting. Be sure there is air conditioning or windows and sufficient heating depending on the weather, so everyone is comfortable throughout. Of course, having some jugs of water along the table is important to keep everyone hydrated and focused.

 

On the day of the meeting arrive promptly, you don’t want to be thrown off by having to rush, so get there slightly early, and then you have time to relax and go over a few notes. Gauge the formality of the meeting and dress accordingly. That being said, also dress so you feel comfortable and confident. You don’t want to be weighed down with worry about your appearance.

 

As the meeting begins be sure to introduce yourself. Be clear and make sure your voice carries throughout the room. People appreciate and engage with eye contact, and a smile is always a good start. Set out the objectives of the meeting and perhaps go over a brief itinerary for what you would like to achieve. Keep the audience in the loop about why and when things are happening. Be sure to ask questions and allow people to have their say. Find ways to encourage those not speaking as much and ensure others aren’t dominating the conversation too much. If needed ensure the minutes are recorded throughout.

 

As the meeting draws to a close make sure any unanswered questions are resolved, all your points have been raised and everyone feels clear and confident about the content. Summarise all the points and give a debrief to finalise everything. If another meeting is to follow, now is the perfect time to discuss and arrange the best time and venue for that. Having a collection box is helpful to gather funds for the next meeting. Explain why said donations are vital to secure a decent meeting space. As the meeting concludes be sure to thank everyone for their time and reiterate the next meeting date.