Chairing a meeting means facilitating and steering discussion so that the meeting achieves its aims.
The chairperson starts by reading the agenda and asking whether there are any additions to the agenda. Ideally, the agenda should have been circulated by the secretary to all people attending the meeting at least a week before the meeting takes place. This seldom happens so it is polite to ask the committee at the start of the meeting whether they have anything to add to the agenda.
Important matters and items that can be dealt with quickly should be discussed first. An agenda looks like the example below.
Everyone must get a chance to talk. The chairperson must not do all the talking, and must not allow people to interrupt each other or to talk at the same time. The chairperson must make sure that everyone sticks to the topic.
The chairperson must work out how much time to spend on each discussion, and stop people from wasting time. It is best to introduce each topic briefly and then allow someone to report or give an input. Allow for questions and discussion. Give clear direction when a decision is needed – try to outline the options if there are different proposals. Reach a decision by consensus if possible and vote only if needed.
The chairperson must summarise what happened at the meeting. This means going over the important decisions that were made. Everyone must know what they promised to do and by when it must be done.
The chairperson asks members when, where and what time the next meeting will be held.