Chairing a formal meeting

Chairing a formal meeting


It is likely that during the course of your working life you will be called upon fairly regularly to chair meetings. The nature of the role you play as the chair will vary slightly according to the degree of formality the meeting requires, what matters are being discussed and who is discussing them. However, in all cases the chair must:

  control and coordinate the meeting;

  ensure that all matters under discussion are properly presented;

  allow participants to comment on the matters being discussed;

  ensure that the meeting is not dominated by a single individual;

  move from one issue to the next;

  ensure that business is transacted efficiently;

  ensure that the necessary decisions are made;

  not allow the meeting to exceed the time allotted;

  see that all necessary minutes and records are kept.


Most formal meetings commence with the reading of the minutes of the previous meeting and the presentation of the agenda for the current meeting. The matters set out on the agenda are then introduced and discussed by the participants. Towards the end of the meeting, motions are proposed and votes are taken on the matters proposed as motions. The participants then deal with any other business (often marked as ‘AOB’ on meeting agendas) which needs to be dealt with at that point, and the meeting is then closed.

A typical meeting structure is as follows:

1  the chair opens the meeting;

2  the minutes are read;

3  the agenda is introduced;

4  first subject is introduced;

5  the chair gives the floor to a participant;

6  another speaker takes the floor;

7  the chair keeps order;

8  the chair moves the discussion to a new point;

9  the chair directs the discussion;

10  participants propose new motions;

11  the chair moves to a vote;

12  voting occurs;

13  consensus reached;

14  any other business dealt with;

15  meeting closed.