When you start chairing meetings one of the main worries is how to keep control of the meeting. Often some of the delegates will be more senior and/or more experienced and it’s easy to feel alone and vulnerable. Here are some tips to ensure you keep calm and in control

  • Be prepared – being in control starts well before the meeting. You need to have thought about what want to achieve in the meeting and how you are going to go about this. Make sure you have a realistic aim for this particular meeting
  • Be early – running late is a great way to ensure a bad start to a meeting! Get there early, check the layout and temperature of the room, install yourself and greet the delegates as they arrive
  • Have ground rules – these are a great way of letting delegates know how you expect them to behave and how the meeting will operate. These can be stated at the start of the meeting, such as “I want us all to allow everyone to voice their views on this decision”. Another way, especially for a larger meeting or where there is likely to be disagreements, is to put a list of ground rules on display. These could include “One person at a time”, “Show respect for the views of others”, “Questions are welcomed”
  • Use clear timings – an easy way to do this is to put timings on the agenda and then stick to them. This allows you to use phrases such as “We only have 15 minutes left on this topic, lets move on to hear Vince’s views”.
  • Start on time – this shows that you mean business and that you respect the time your delegates are giving to the meeting. Depending on the situation you maybe able to get any late delegates to buy coffee for everyone!
  • Appear confident even if you don’t feel it – Your body language is a powerful tool. Even if you have butterflies in your stomach smile at delegates, use open gestures and a firm handshake.
  • What ideas do you have to remain in control of a meeting?
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