Emma has over 12 years experience in training NHS accountants, elected members and university support staff to host effective meetings. We asked her to tell us what qualities she thinks makes the most effective Chair?

As a coach and a facilitator I regularly lead groups - often comprising people who don’t know one another - to a decision-making point.

Regardless of the size or remit of a meeting, I believe there are some chairing essentials that must always be considered. Here are some of my top tips.

  • Be very clear about the purpose of your meeting. Often a meeting might happen because it always happens at 10am on the third Thursday of the month. But does it need to be so regular or last a full two hours?

  • Do delegates need to come to the meeting prepared? Are there materials they should read before attending? If so, make sure you distribute these at least a week before the meeting, and don’t be afraid to nudge delegates a couple of days before to remind them to read the documents.

  • Carefully consider your agenda. What will be a realistic time to move an item forward in? Write on the agenda the times you are giving for each item. This will focus thinking and discourage unhelpful or irrelevant contributions.

  • Sit up straight. Chairing is a leadership task so look like a leader.

  • Exercise control from the outset. If someone is talking to their neighbour, swinging on their chair or deviating, then quickly and politely ask them to stop. If you don’t challenge a minor irritant then it’s more difficult to confront a major one later on.

Keen to learn more? Then come along to our Take the Chair course on the 22 March where Emma will be sharing more of her knowledge!