While providing freedom to the members for expressing their views on the items taken up for deliberation, the chairperson ensures that discussions do not stray.
The chairperson also ensures that as far as possible, all the agenda items stated for discussions are duly taken up for deliberation. The chairperson may also have to make appropriate opening and concluding remarks in the interest of directing the course of the deliberations and arriving at unambiguous decisions and conclusions. Through experience, wit and wisdom, the chairperson brings in authority and decisiveness to the deliberations.
If during the course of deliberations, members get into a war of words, or a personal clash, the chairperson will have to use his/her skill in resolving such conflicts without hurting the people concerned. When meetings are either long or very frequent, some time may have to be spent in warming up or refreshing the participants or unwinding. People management assumes significance in all meetings. It is common knowledge that sometimes, discussions in meetings tend to revolve too much on insignificant and not directly relevant topics and concerns, leaving much less time for deliberating on the more important topics. The chairperson, or the convenor, which should play a complementary role in conducting the meetings should intervene, and bring in the much needed sense of proportion ill the deliberations. Very importantly, the chairperson has to summarize and reiterate at appropriate places, and thereby clearly state the main points that have emerged out of the deliberations. Especially at the end of every meeting, the action points, decisions and conclusions have to be reaffirmed.
To conclude, it is worth reiterating that meetings, when conducted effectively, can bring substantial benefits in resolving even sensitive matters through collective wisdom. They can be a very cost-effective means of intense interaction. When participants learn to talk, listen and interact in a responsible manner, meetings can be really result oriented. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that although the people participating are knowledgeable, they may or may not speak out freely and contribute to the deliberations. Sometimes, some of the more vocal participants may tend to dominate the deliberations, not giving an opportunity to others to express themselves. In all such cases, the chairperson or the convenor should intervene. After all, the very purpose of inviting people is to get their views and suggestions, and meetings have to be highly participative within the given context. In other words, it takes conscious effort, attention to details, and deft and authoritative steering of deliberations to make meetings effective.