Meeting Skills - FAQ

What does chairing a meeting involve?
The Chair carries the ultimate responsibility for the success of the meeting and is responsible for making sure that all business is discussed in line with the timed agenda, everyone's views are heard and clear decisions are reached.

What are the qualities of a good chairperson?
It is the responsibility of the Chair to ensure that all the business is discussed in line with the agenda timings and that everyone's views are heard and discussed and that clear decisions are reached and accepted.

Why is it a good idea to have meeting Rules?
By taking a proactive approach to what constitutes acceptable behavior at your meetings, you can prevent bad feeling developing between participants and make your role of Chair more effective.

What are the duties of the chair before the meeting?
Before the meeting, the Chair should: define the meeting objective and decide if this is the best way to address the issues, ensure the key contributors and those with authority to make decisions are invited to attend, develop a well thought out and timely agenda and assign a competent individual to take the minutes.

What are the duties of the chair at the beginning of the meeting?
At the start of the meeting, the Chair should: Introduce the participants and make everyone feel welcome, state what it is that the meeting seeks to achieve and use this to focus the group as well as making clear how long the meeting will last and the times of any breaks.

What are the duties of the chair during the meeting?
During the meeting, the Chair should: keep the meeting focused and on time, and encourage participation and contributions from everyone, agree and minute all the key points, draw out contributions from those who have a point of view or question but may be reluctant to communicate it.

What are the duties of the chair after the meeting?
After the meeting, the Chair should: check the minutes prior to circulation, review and evaluate the meeting results against the objectives.

What is the purpose of a meeting agenda?
An agenda allows invitees to decide whether or not they need to attend, it acts as a reference so that attendees can prepare for the meeting, it provides a structure for the meeting, it gives the Chair a tool they can use to keep the meeting under control and it represents a standard by which the meeting can be judged a success or failure.

How should a meeting agenda be designed?
Your agenda should be headed with a title, date, time, the location of the meeting, and a list of expected attendees. By clearly stating the objectives of your meeting at the top of the agenda, attendees are more likely to prepare properly and less likely to resent being asked to attend.

How should agenda items be specified?
Each agenda item should have an item number, timings, sub-titles if necessary and an indication of who is to lead the discussion.

Do short meetings benefit from an agenda?
Even short ad hoc meetings benefit from an agenda as it gives a meeting purpose and focus. This is because discussions tend to wander off the point if there is no agenda and attending a meeting without one could leave you vulnerable to being bounced into agreeing to something that you later regret.

What are meeting minutes?
Meeting minutes are a summarized written record of a meeting which detail what has been decided and by whom it is to be actioned. In certain circumstances, minutes may be considered as legal documents, but even where this is not the case they represent the definitive record of the meeting.

What are the elements of meeting minutes?
For minutes to be an accurate reflection of what took place during a meeting there are certain elements that must be included in the electronic or written document.

What are the responsibilities of the minute taker?
The role of minute taker is not confined to that of just of attending the meeting. The individual performing this role has certain responsibilities that must be met to ensure that communications are efficient and timely.

How do I take meeting minutes?
There are two crucial communication skills you require to ensure that your minute taking is an accurate reflection of what took place during a meeting. These are the ability to listen, and the ability to take clear and concise notes.

What are the potential problems when taking minutes?
For the person taking the minutes, all meetings present the same basic problems. They can be summarized as: deciphering what is an important fact from all the noise, the difficulty in making a contribution to the meeting and anticipating potential issues or problems that could arise.

Is there any software available to help with meeting minutes?
If you are looking for something more sophisticated than a simple checklist you can consider some of the electronic tools and software available. Some of these minutes tools are free, others are priced per user. You will have to select the one that best meets your or the organization's needs and provides the right combination of functionality and simplicity.

What are conference calls?
Through the use of Conference Calls organizations have been able to short-circuit decision-making and reduce the non-productive traveling time and costs that it previously experienced. These benefits have also been passed onto other organizations such as those of your customers, suppliers and partners, reducing everyone's costs.

When are conference calls used?
Conference calls are typically used for: progress meetings, project updates, gaining approval for decisions, strategy reviews, training and internal communications.

What are the technical issues affecting conference calls?
Whilst the technical issues are less common than in the past, you still need to be aware of certain issues of a technical nature that can impact the effectiveness of your conference calls.

What are the human factor issues affecting conference calls?
The other aspect that impacts the effectiveness of conference calls is the human element. This mainly relates to how you behave and your attitude during the call.

How conference calls can affect your productivity?
Whilst conference calls have undoubtedly brought substantial benefits to organizations by making personnel more productive and saving considerable sums previously spent on travel, they are not perfect as they can have a serious impact on an individual's productivity.

Why you may need to adapt your communication style?
Conference calls are one of the most often cited pet hates of employees who find that their motivation to participate and provide ideas are shut down by the impersonal and difficult to coordinate nature of the medium.

Why conference calls benefit from advance planning?
You can make your conference calls more effective by taking a constructive approach to how you plan for your calls and how you conduct yourself and interact with others.

How should conference calls be facilitated?
Your expertise as a facilitator and chair will have a profound effect on the outcome of you conference call. There are several tasks you have to perform to ensure your call is a success including: starting on time, making introductions, stating the objective of the call and making sure that the call follows the agenda.

What is conference call etiquette?
In order to overcome these limitations, every organization that uses conference calling should have a set of published guidelines that cover both the technical aspects and the accepted etiquette of conference calls.

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