Many of you will chair meetings as part of your role and those that don’t may in the future or will in someone’s absence. Here are some points to remember:

1. What Makes a Good Chair?

Below are some general pointers about what makes a good Chair of a meeting. Some of you will have these skills, possibly without realizing them; other will have some but not all. They are things to think about and focus on as you develop your role of a Chair to optimize your abilities and thus the running of the meeting you chair

  • An understanding of the issues and topics being discussed
  • A personal knowledge of the Committee’s members
  • Strength of personality and character allowing you to stand your ground and to effectively manage the meeting. Be able to utilize your authority e.g. prevent discussions wandering, prevent those without anything knew to add repeating the same point, being able to move on when a point is discussed as far as possible etc
  • Being an able to sum-up the points made in discussions so before a vote the members know what they being asked to decide on. Requires you having an understanding of the issues and topics being discussed and keenly listening to the discussions.
  • Knowing how things should be done i.e. knowing the standing orders and not have to look them up
  • The ability to deal with people outside meetings

It is important to get feedback from others about your ability to chair. Ask others what they think your weaknesses are, possibly asking them how the meeting progressed and what weaknesses there were. Look at others Chairing meetings (how about Union Council or other Union meetings)

2. General Running of Meeting

a) Before meeting starts

  • Have an agenda and make sure everyone knows about it (work with the Secretary)
  • Send out the agenda and papers so everyone can read them in advance (speak to the Secretary)
  • Book a room and make sure it is easily found. Give directions if required and arrange sign posts if needed
  • Arrange seating to encourage maximum interaction and contribution. This may involve everyone sitting around a table for reasonable sized groups

b) As people arrive

  • Ensure everyone has copy of the agenda and any papers for the meeting

c) Starting the meeting

  • Make sure on time
  • Introduce yourself and welcome all especially new members

d) Fun stuff – a meeting doesn’t just have to be about presenting/reading/discussing papers, other things can be done too

  • Presentations about important developments. If a presentation is included may be an idea to have paper copies so these can be taken away and members aren’t too distracted by taking down too many notes.
  • Include slides, overheads, videos etc One again, copies where possible, summaries of the information on the video could be useful/essential
  • Invite outside speakers to talk about issues relevant to the committee
  • Training events- e.g. games
  • Review what has previously been done, congratulating members when things have been accomplished
  • Bring refreshments

e) Finishing

  • Always finish on time
  • Talk to other members about what has been discussed/or other issues if they wish
  • Make sure the minutes are written up and circulated to the members well in advance of the next meeting (speak to the Secretary)

3. At the first meeting


  • Talk too much as the chair
  • Ask for volunteers
  • Cover too much
  • Have it lasting too long
  • Assume everyone has the same knowledge or knows what you are talking about


  • organized in advance
  • Have a written agenda
  • Introduce yourself maybe new members or others observing don’t know who you are
  • Make everyone feel comfortable
  • Have a method to get member’s ideas a brainstorming, open debate
  • Have expectations about how members should give input
  • Enjoy yourself
  • Finish on time

4. Chairing ongoing meetings

  • Discussion – let member know when discussion has drifted from the topic. Usually it will quickly return to it. Remind members of the topic and the goals of the meeting
  • Summarize- what less active members have said and link associated points together. Accept parts of ideas and ask for them to be developed.
  • Spot likely problems – summarize feelings as well as content to anticipate problems
  • State the problem – never blame anyone, state in a constructive manner. Clear up what decisions the group has to make, do not waste time on other things
  • Avoid
  • Taking sides
  • Becoming a participant of the discussion
  • Manipulating the group towards your own agenda
  • Criticizing the values and ideas of others
  • Forcing your own ideas on the group if necessary have someone else chair the meeting so you can take part
  • Making decisions for the members without asking them for agreement
  • Saying too much
  • Start – as close to the start time as possible, people’s time is invaluable
  • Finish – on time, if not before, ditto

Please follow this guideline if you think that it important for you to chair your meeting but if it is not useful please ignore on it.

By Chamreoun