Why do meetings fail? Well, there may be reasons such as lack of time, a badly designed agenda or an unsatisfactory venue. However, if the chairman is doing his (or her) job, it should be possible to overcome these difficulties.
Chairing a meeting means ensuring that a meeting achieves its aims. The meeting should have been called for a specific purpose and all discussion at the meeting must be steered to this end. This may sound simple in theory but in practice it is a very demanding task. The skills required include:
A chairman is like a judge in a court. He should ensure that all participants have an opportunity to express their point of view. It can be difficult to leave your own opinions at home, but if you can’t remain impartial, you shouldn’t have taken the job.
Ensuring that everyone gets a hearing will almost certainly involve stopping someone from dominating the proceedings. The more contentious the issue the more likely you are to to require firmness. You don’t need to be rude or dogmatic. Phrases such as “I think we should hear from Ms. Smith on this” or “can we have some comments from the engineering department on this” should be sufficient in most cases. Once you provide this opening, however, you need to ensure that there are no interruptions while the next speaker has their say.