How to chair effective meetings


By Alvin Ung

Dato’ Sri Dr Halim has served on many boards for more than a decade, including the board of Telekom Malaysia, Multimedia University, Menara KL and the National Library. While there are great resources on how to lead meetings one Google click away, some of the fine nuances of chairing meetings – especially in an Asian setting – cannot usually be picked up by how-to manuals. “So what makes a good chairman?” I asked Dr Halim.

“I have no idea if I’m a good chairman,” he immediately responded. I found that response telling.  Never fall into the trap of presumption – assuming you’re really that good just because you’ve chalked up accolades. Here are more

Tips on how to run meetings:

  1. Always stick to time. Walk through the agenda and declare the time you plan to finish. Then stick to it.
  2. Always assume that people have done their homework. Do it yourself. Walk into the meeting with a rough measure of the complexity of the issues at hand – so that you can start posing and discussing strategic questions.
  3. Proportion at least 30% of your meeting time on strategic issues rather than operational efficiencies.
  4. Create ownership of ideas by active listening. The lesser you talk, the better. Wait for people to share their points. Where there’s agreement, affirm it. That’s how you create ownership for ideas.

Recognise and affirm the value of your board members. “They are all better than me,” Dr Halim said immediately when I asked him about the quality of conversations and engagement by the board members. Be especially grateful for team members who have the ability to summarize and clarify the issues at hand to help you make clear decisions.



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