Advanced Chairmanship Skills

Clinicians are often asked to chair meetings. These can range from purely clinical ones through to managerial, or even public ones.

Often doctors are asked to chair meetings simply through deference to their position, with little consideration given to their abilities as a chairperson. It is therefore no surprise when they do it badly; I guess we’ve all been at meetings where we have inwardly groaned at the poor performance of an ‘eminent’ chairperson.

Here are some of the essential competences of an effective chairperson:

• Purpose:
– thank people for coming and explain the purpose of the meeting. Seek agreement on the purpose.
• Impartiality:
– Avoid giving your opinion but let everyone else have their say
– Don’t ‘side’ with anyone
• Assertiveness with gentleness:
– Prevent interruptions and stop one person dominating (see ‘Useful phrases’)
• Stick to time:
– limit the agenda, consider taking contentious issues ‘offline’
• Summarise:
– Sum up the item/meeting: either do it yourself or ask someone who hasn’t said much to do it
– Confirm the actions and who is going to do what

PDF version here

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