Types of Meetings
Meetings within the Council
External Meetings
(Formal and Informal)
Being a School Governor
Roles at Meetings
Effective Participation
Public disclosure and meetings access
What does the chair do?
How can I be most effective in meetings?
Questions & Answers


Meeting Practice > What does the chair do?

What does the chair do?

Role of the chair

  • The chair has a pivotal role in managing meetings.
  • The chair is a leader (of the purpose and the business of the meeting), a controller (of the meeting environment e.g. through time management), a facilitator (of discussion), a mediator (of disagreement), a summariser (of agreements, decisions and actions) an enforcer (of the rules), and a conduit and an advocate (for communication and action post-meeting).
  • The success of a meeting to a large degree rests on the style and skill of the chair.
  • Particular roles of the chair include planning the agenda; control of the meeting ‘housekeeping’; welcoming and introducing people and guests; introducing and explaining the background and purpose of agenda items; ensuring that members who wish to contribute have an opportunity to do so; coaxing quiet and reflective members to contribute; avoiding discussion straying off the point; controlling dominant behaviour; shifting the debate as necessary; ensuring that full professional advice is given and heard; leading debate to a conclusion; negotiating agreement and decisions and holding votes as necessary; summing up; keeping the agenda moving; deferring items if appropriate.
  • The chair needs to display a range of skills and behaviours in the meeting from being facilitative (of open discussion) to decisive (in encouraging the committee to reach a decision).
  • Chairs also have the power of a second or ‘casting’ vote where a vote is tied. Occurrences of this are rare.


Role of vice-chair

  • The vice-chair (where one exists) performs an important but less apparent role.
  • They can deputise for the chair when they are absent, have to leave a meeting or are not able to participate due to the declaration of an interest.
  • They are also a confidante and ‘sounding-board’ for the chair and take particular roles in meetings to support the role of the chair (e.g. taking responsibility for presenting certain items).
  • In a situation of a power-sharing coalition or proportional representation (e.g. the fourth option) a sharing of party representation amongst the chair and vice-chair positions within the council can promote joint working between the political parties and ease tensions.


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