Meetings chairs need to find a way of getting people warmed up at a meeting. Everybody needs to move their mind from whatever they were just doing to be present with this group.
I find meeting these days are often very unproductive and many people really are not present in mind, only in body. Telephone meeting are even more difficult where people can be working on something else while they attend.
I find it a real challenge and demands some real creativity on the part of the chairperson. At our Senge Group, a group that discusses books, we start with everybody sharing some news or interesting thing. I think this really helps this group function well. The group has developed a real sense of trust and we have some great discussion.
Often at the beginning of a meeting I will do something that engages everybody. That helps but does not keep people present. If I know I am losing someone, I will ask them a question. I think it is particularly important because we are making a mistake if we assume silence means agreement. The job of the chairperson is to keep people engaged.
Another problem is a poor meeting is disrespectful of people's time. As chairperson, we need to make sure that we are making best us of the time. A good chairperson can be invaluable to a team.
Let us all make a resolution to be better chairpersons and more present attendees. Comments?