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How to chair a Meeting (Best Practices)

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Category: Meeting Timer
Forum Name: Using Meeting Timer
Forum Discription: Questions, Comments and Bug Reports on Meeting Timer Freeware and Pro
Printed Date: 24 Jul 24 at 10:02PM

Topic: How to chair a Meeting (Best Practices)
Posted By: Michel_K17
Subject: How to chair a Meeting (Best Practices)
Date Posted: 04 Jul 09 at 12:37PM
Let's face it: running a meeting can be challenging. Everyone wants to speak, building consensus is slow, and often it feels like we have run out of time at the end, and either nothing is accomplished, or the meeting goes into overtime.

You should also know that - Meeting Timer will not magically fix all of the typical problems with meetings. Meeting Timer is a great tool, but it's all in how you chair the meeting first.

Set Expectations for the Meeting

Every meeting should have an explicit stated goal. Make sure that it is clear what can be expected from meeting. Avoid the word "discuss" at all costs. Although it can be quite lovely to have a friendly chat about a key topic or issue, your attendees may choose to:
  1. not prepare
  2. not show up
  3. not be ready to work with others
Choose an action verb with a clear completion statement. If it is clear that a decision will be taken for example, your attendees will be much more inclined to do their research ahead of time, and to show up to ensure that the decision is not taken without them.

Here are some examples:
  • Finalize Material Selection for the casing of the Widget
  • Decide on Vacation Policy
  • Final Review and Approval of the Superbowl Advertisement

Set an Agenda

An Agenda identifies how the meeting will be divided, but more importantly, who will present key information. The agenda should always be issued well ahead of the meeting and should identify who is responsible for specific items so that they can prepare ahead of time and cannot use the "I didn't know" excuse.

Pre-Meeting Preparation

Make sure that your attendees have access to whatever files or action registers that they might need.

Most importantly for meetings that may have an important decision or outcome, you can choose to build consensus ahead of time, or at least what the counter-points will be so that you or your attendees can be fully prepared to discuss items that they would not have thought of. This is truly optional for less important meetings, but key for meetings where delaying a decision is not feasible, or if you are relying on "the right decision" to be made.

Setting up for the Meeting

Make the maximum use of the time available to you. Setup early, before the meeting starts so that your attendees wait for you to setup a laptop or a projector. Make sure that all the connections work ahead of time (speaker phone, Net Meeting, Video Phone, etc.)

Have all the reference material handy, and bring copies for each attendee of key documents. As a minimum, a copy of the agenda can be useful to keep everyone on track.

Establishing or Reviewing Meeting Rules

Does your company have published expectations or best practices for the conduct or behaviors at meetings? If so, great! Pull them out, and give them a once-over. If not, consider establishing some rules if this will be for a recurring meeting such as a weekly project review. Here are some sample items that you might find useful:
  • One conversation Only.
  • No laptops or blackberries. usually pretty controversial. For a 4 hour project review, consider not applying this rule, but for a participative meeting, it can be worthwhile to get everyone engaged.
  • No deep-diving. If you only have an hour to status a project, you can hardly spend it on one topic. Carefully propose that someone takes an action to resolve complex problems in a different meeting, or on their own time outside the meeting.

Assigning Meeting Roles

Company culture plays a role here, and may dictate expectations of what is acceptable or not. Nonetheless, it can be quite complex to chair a meeting and to take notes or drive a computer at the same time. Between the two, often chairing the meeting is the more important of the two. Now that you have decided that you need help, here is where you can get it:
  • If I was presenting to my superiors, I would consider bringing in a co-worker or a staff assistant to take minutes and keep track of actions.
  • However, if this is a meeting with my peers or co-workers, consider using them to share in the workload of managing the meeting. Seek volunteers (and even nominate if you have to)  some of the attendees to type the minutes, track actions, run the computer, or to keep track of time.

Chairing the Meeting

A difficult job, to be sure. Are you a shy person? Or do you have a tendency to speak your mind a little too much? Chairmanship is all about the attendees, and guiding them through the meeting (ie, the agenda). Add remainder of this topic here...

Managing Time


Closing the Meeting


In Conclusion


Michel Korwin-Szymanowski
EXP Systems LLC

Posted By: Michel_K17
Date Posted: 08 Oct 09 at 11:58PM
I found this excellent article [ - here ] at the Business Week web site on how Google runs their meetings.

There is some very good stuff in the article. I have always professed using data over opinions (they called it "politics" in the article) as part of my "Pig farmer's guide to project management" (not yet published) - and it's an excellent recommendation above and beyond what I mentioned above.

Apparently, they also use a large timer at their meetings like Meeting Timer which I thought was interesting. This leads back to the "company culture" which can have a big role to play on how we behave at meetings (and how we can make meetings more effective).


Michel Korwin-Szymanowski
EXP Systems LLC

Posted By: brian500
Date Posted: 01 Apr 10 at 2:29AM
Nice work! It looks that you are highly expert blogger. Your post is an excellent example of why I keep coming back to read your excellent quality content that is forever updated.

------------- - CISM | - JN0-342 | - a00-211

Posted By: jaclin
Date Posted: 25 Nov 11 at 5:25AM
I think when it comes to meeting or - conference call , one of the most important aspects lies in setting expectations. I think many interviewers even to this date commit the mistake of using the word “discuss”. This paves way for the attendees to easily clasp onto the usual excuses such as “haven’t prepared”.

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