Privileged soapbox? How to be an
By Robyn Pearce
How many poorly run meetings have you attended? Ever noticed a
chairperson who uses their position to grandstand and bulldoze their own
agenda, leaving battered and silenced colleagues grumbling into their
teacups in the corridor. I'm sure some people think that's their right as
a chairperson, especially when they're the boss. However, there are
infinitely more effective ways to build cooperation.
Let's check out how an effective chair handles the group.
Functions: The agenda; control and atmosphere of the meeting; 'the buck
stops here'; making sure that everyone contributes; ensuring that the
tasks are evenly shared out, and the willing horses don't end up with all
the work (conditional on individuals' time constraints, of course);
If you need training, get it. An effective chairperson can make or
break the effectiveness of any meeting.
Be structured. Don't dodge all around the agenda. Stay focused on one
issue at a time, finish, and then move on.
Give trivia the time it deserves. If something is urgent, but
relatively unimportant, put a time limit on discussion.
Watch the quiet people, and involve them. It is very easy for these
folk to be dominated and talked over, and yet, because they are quieter,
and not in such a hurry to air their opinions, they usually have very
valid things to say.
Ensure that the vocal members don't dominate the meeting. If someone
wanders, a chairperson has to kindly but firmly thank the garrulous one,
saying something like, "Let's hear from ... ", or "I think
we need to keep on the topic."
Side conversations. These can be huge time-wasters, and the chairperson
must nip them in the bud immediately, or the precedent will be set. They
may have to stop the meeting and INSIST on only one person speaking at a
time. If the pattern has already been set in an existing group, put it at
the top of your next agenda for discussion, and get agreement. The rest of
the group can then help the chairperson enforce it. Anyone who wants to
chat socially can carry on after the meeting.
About the author: Robyn Pearce, of TimeLogic
Corporation, has helped 1000's of folks in 'Getting a grip on their time'.
for FREE subscription to her email that includes "how-to"
practical time management assistance, books, tapes, products, and more.
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