4 Things to Consider When Chairing Meetings

In: BlogDate: Jun 20, 2018By: Billy Burgess

We are all familiar with meetings, with research showing that meetings have increased in length and frequency over the past 50 years. Because of this, more and more research is being done into how to make meetings more productive and engaging.

There's plenty of things for the chair of a meeting to consider when planning and organising a meeting, including the meeting format. In this blog, Billy outlines four things that you should consider when chairing meetings.

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How necessary is the meeting?

This is the most fundamental consideration of all.

Research by Steven Rogelberg, Cliff Scott and John Kello in the MIT Sloan Management Review found that executives spend an average of nearly 23 hours a week in meetings — up from less than 10 hours in the 1960s. With that amount of time being spent in meetings, it's important that our time is being spent wisely.

Meetings, of course, have their place, but if this meeting is taking up the time of numerous staff members, then you must ensure that there is a good justification for the meeting. If it is, could the meeting be shortened? (From 30 minutes to 20, for example.)

How much money does the meeting cost?

Think of how long a meeting takes and the amount of staff present and you’ll be able to calculate how much money a regular meeting costs the company. This isn’t intended to be an intimidating consideration, but rather something else to be wary of when looking at meeting length and the number of staff invited.

Productivity can’t always be simply evaluated and there are occasions when the theoretic cost of a meeting will be nothing compared to the progress made therein. But, it’s worth weighing up meeting contents and duration against the tally of staff on the invite list, and looking at whether that money could be better spent elsewhere.

Remove glaring distractions

Productive meetings depend on there being a united focus. These days the primary distractions are smartphones, tablets and laptops. Unless they’re integral to a meeting’s function and purpose, it’s wise to keep these gadgets out of the room. This could just mean asking staff to leave phones and laptops at their desks or in their bags, or requiring everyone place them into a safe box.

While everyone thinks they are great multi-taskers, research shows that this is rarely true. So, in the name of securing attention, staff should leave clearing their inboxes and replying to client texts until after the meeting.

Go easy on the novelties

We’re always hearing anecdotes about Silicon Valley-inspired companies whose meetings involve staff playing a game of Twister while pitching new concepts or raising concerns about company finances. This might sound like fun (or it might not), but there’s a strong case for steering clear of such hi-jinks.

Not only are these sorts of novelties a major distraction, they’re also time consuming. Meetings take people away from their work. While sipping a mocktail and engaging in lighthearted tomfoolery could be a relief, it could also cause unnecessary disruption to a worker’s productive flow. This isn’t to say the entire workday must revolve around quantifiably useful activity, but reflection and creative meditation at one’s desk might be significantly more fruitful than a quirky spectacle.

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Learn More Techniques for Chairing Meetings in our Workshops

You will be able to explore chairing meetings in more detail in our one-day workshop, Chairing Meetings. The day will provide information on carrying through the role of chair and will consider some of the difficulties that can confront the person in the chair. This next runs on 27th March.

Explore more tips with our short online workshop, Chairing Remote Meetings. This two-hour session will look at how to chair remote meetings. With most people working from home, we will consider how to facilitate productive and enjoyable meetings that achieve the purpose for which they have been arranged.

Both workshops are available as a private group session for your organisation, held online or in the classroom. Contact us for pricing and availability.

Why learn online with Happy?

  • Interactive and engaging - just like our classroom sessions
  • Bitesize or full-day sessions - fit around your schedule
  • Learn from home - all you need is a quiet place to call from and an internet connection
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Billy Burgess

Billy has been writing blogs for Happy since 2017, covering mindfulness, stress management, confidence building and emotional intelligence as well as offering handy tips for Office 365 users. He's also an established arts, culture and lifestyle writer.

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