Agendas are vital to effective meetings. They ensure important topics are not forgotten, give a structure to follow, and help keep the committee focussed.
The chairperson has a key role in making the meeting work, by making good use of time and people to reach good decisions (not everyone makes a good Chairperson).
- understand the agenda
- go through the previous minutes
- be clear about what needs to be done at/by the meeting
- decide on the time allocation for each item on the agenda and for the whole meeting.
- research shows that after 90 minutes meetings start to become less effective.
Start on time, finish on time!
- make sure that people are seated so that they can see, hear and participate properly.
- ensure that newcomers, guest speakers, etc. are welcomed and introduced.
- the chairperson should introduce each item on the agenda, asking certain people to speak as required.
- any following discussions should be regulated to give all views a chance to come forward and allow a census to emerge.
- the chair should then summarise, making clear the decision taken and who is to do what
- be aware of dominators hogging the discussion and new or less confident members not having a chance to speak up. Discourage and encourage as appropriate.
- make sure that difficult decisions are not constantly deferred in the hope that they will go away.
- meetings often focus on problems and difficulties, find time to remember successes and throw in the odd positive statement.