7 mighty questions for chairs

Published on 2 August 2022

If you’re finding Chairing hard work, it could be time to change the work you’re doing. When you step from being a member of a group to chairing it, it’s like swapping from a player to a manager.
Your work changes. It becomes about enabling the group to perform well.

As a chair, your work is to draw out their individual and collective wisdom. Questions will help you do it and I have 7 mighty ones to share with you. They are:

  • What do you think?
  • Who has a different view?
  • What’s the upshot?
  • What don’t we know?
  • What needs to happen next? Who will do it?
  • What might get in the way?
  • How can we plan for that?

They will help you create interaction, invite contributions, challenge your group to think and
volunteer their ideas. They are short, singular and open which creates the space for them to think
and respond. Remember to pause after you’ve asked the question, allow them time to collect their
thoughts. And if there are no immediate responses, coax them out with another question, “who
would like to share their thoughts?”.

These questions will empower your group. They will show that you trust them. In return they will
turn their brains on and share their thoughts. As a chair, your work becomes about working with
their output, listening, framing, connecting and organising what they share. That’s work enough.

And, because this may be different to how your meetings usually run, and you may be asking more
from your group than before, here are a couple of bonus questions for the end of the meeting:

  • How was this meeting for you?
  • Thank you for your energy and input

Happy Chairing!
In the spirit of this piece, what do you think? What’s worked for you? What’s missing?



John Scarrott
John Scarrott

Trainer and Coach, John Scarrott Training and Coaching

John Scarrott is a Trainer and Coach working with association professionals on their approach to speaking, chairing meetings, presentations, communication and influence. John is a former Membership Director, with over 25-years’ experience of making presentations. He is the retained trainer in Public Speaking and Presentation Skills for the AAE and also for the Institute of Data & Marketing. John is a professionally qualified coach with a Professional Certified Coach (PCC) Credential from the International Coach Federation. He has spoken in the UK and internationally working with association professionals across Europe and in India and Australia.