Chair person

From that ten-cent phone call and a cup of coffee to AA's General Service Office. What's your take on service?

Chair person

Postby keithd » Thu Mar 02, 2006 4:37 pm

How do you chair a meeting? What is a chair persons duty? A lot of time i feel a topic is lost or changed. People getting up to go smoke and comming back in drives me nuts. But we do not govern, i smoke but can go the hour without one. I've been asked to chair but always pass because i need to work on me for now but the time will come and just need some input for that day. Thanks.
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Re: Chair person

Postby Holly96 » Thu Mar 02, 2006 6:56 pm

Hi there Kieth

The meetings I have chaired have been pretty easy to jump in and chair. Sometimes the person who is supposed to chair does not show up, and I have jumped in at the last minute. It was SCARY my first time, but its a great way to become involved and do service work.
You usually have some type of format you follow for the group. You start the meeting on time, pass out things for people to read(12 steps, how it works etc)....some groups pass out chips for various lengths of sobriety...some dont. As the meeting goes along, just follow the format. (pass the basket for the 7th tradition....read from literature...etc). Then at the end close the meeting in whatever format the meeting uses.

meetings vary so much, so there is no one way to chair a meeting. (at least that has been my experience) Its generally the same, but different for each meeting. (if that makes sense!)

It was suggested to me early in my sobriety that if some one asked me to do service work, unless the building was on fire.(or some other major disaster was taking place)....I say yes. I chaired MANY a meeting a didnt want to....
I am selfish and self centered by nature, and helping others really helps me with that.

It can be annoying when people get up and leave, but hopefully they are doing it in a courteous way. Same thing with potty breaks. cant make a room full of drunks hold the potty breaks with coffee flowing freely!! ((smile)). I hope this helps a bit, and I am sure you will get other views. Thats what makes this program such a gift. Glad you asked the question.
don't leave before the miracle...you will be amazed.

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Re: Chair person

Postby Jim 725 » Thu Mar 02, 2006 8:47 pm

It's amazing what we can learn if we pay attention. What have the other chairpersons done? How have they conducted the meetings?
quite a few people were in the habit of walking out of the meeting several times to smoke. No matter how quietly they walk around, they get someone's attention, disrupting the flow of the meeting, at least for some. One night I asked the group as a whole whether spending half the meeting outside counted as a whole meeting, or if it took 180 days to complete the "ninety-in-ninety"? The number who go out to smoke dropped drastically.
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Re: Chair person

Postby Holly96 » Thu Mar 02, 2006 9:12 pm

Great point Jim! I would have laughed had you said that and I was there. Even when I smoked, I wanted to stay sober much more than I wanted to smoke...so missing part of the meeting to smoke was not an option.
don't leave before the miracle...you will be amazed.

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Re: Chair person

Postby Blue Moon » Fri Mar 03, 2006 10:01 am

Hi,

In simple terms a chairperson's job is to "turn up, open up and shut up".

Smokers disrupting the meeting can be a problem. But if someone goes out for a smoke and ends up drunk, yet you stay in the meeting and end up sober, which person loses?
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Re: Chair person

Postby Jake B » Fri May 05, 2006 1:09 pm

I've never heard of someone stepping out of a meeting to smoke and clam there nerves and being "struck drunk" that was kinda far fetched.
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Re: Chair person

Postby SteveC » Sun May 07, 2006 10:44 pm

Hi Jake,

I "stepped out of the meetings" and got drunk. It happens all the time. Luckily I was able to get back to AA before I died.

Hugs!

Steve
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Re: Chair person

Postby Jim 725 » Mon May 08, 2006 4:02 am

It's been my experience that those who "step out of the meeting" and get drunk had been planning the drunk long before they "stepped out of the meeting."
The often heard excuse, "I got drunk because I quit going to meetings," simply means that the slipper hadn't been doing anything else but meetings for his sobriety.
"We stay sober on the Steps we take, not the meetings we make."
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Re: Chair person

Postby SteveC » Tue May 09, 2006 1:27 am

That's true, Jim. I stopped going to meetings, stopped talking to my sponsor ro the guys I was sponsoring. Stopped doing the things that had kept me sober for those 7 years. When I say that I "stepped out of the meetings", I mean I quit taking part in the AA way of life. But not today.

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Re: Chair person

Postby curtis s » Tue May 09, 2006 3:54 pm

It's important to remember that the chairperson is just a trusted servant. THe chairperson is not an authority figure although some people may think that they are. They are not in charge and do not enforce rules. If people get up to smoke it is not your job to make them stop doing this. If people getting up to leave and smoke is disrupting the meeting it can be a subject for group consicence and the group could decide to have an announcement made about it at the beginning of the meeting.

It was easy at first for me to confuse the chairperson with the role of someone running a group in an institution. But they are very different things.

This is not to say that an occaisional word from the chair about this or things like conversing during the meeting is out of line. The key concept is that the chairperson is not responsible for the behavior of the people in the meeting.

Curt
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Postby FudgeBob » Sun Sep 17, 2006 7:19 pm

I was taught that the chairperson was to open the meeting with the format of that meeting (it should be written down).
maintain order (point out things that are not part of the format-like crosstalk, going over the share time limit if there is one).
I see people coming in late, leaving early, leaving and coming back, etc..I don't know how they can take sobriety so lightly, I don't want to miss even 1 second of a meeting I attend, I might miss something that could save my life(or to help someone else).
The long form of the Ninth Tradition tells us that "drunkeness and dissolution are not penalties inflicted by people in authority; they result from his personal disobedience to spiritual principles".
The only thing you can and should do, is pray for them.
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Re: Chair person

Postby JohnElkRiver » Sun Dec 16, 2012 4:24 pm

I am the chair person or (Squad Leader) as we call it for my home group. I simply follow our written format for the meeting to open the meeting, hit the items we agreed was our format and then close the meeting. So getting us through announcements, reading the steps, birthdays, starting the content reading and closing. I also attend our Squad Leaders Meeting once per month where i'm also the secretary. I just view myself as that trusted servant who keeps the meeting starting on time and flowing the way the group consciounce agreed it should. My next duty will be to hand it off in April turning it over properly to the next person so they don't have to make it up as they go. One thing I think we miss in our club is a good hand off from chair to chair. Some groups don't have a written format to follow, some don't show to the Squad Leaders Meeting etc. So as the chair for my group I hope to ensure our home group doesn't have these problems by being part of the solution. My number one duty is to show up and ensure there is a meeting.

I attended a meeting once where the chair didn't show up. It was full of new guys. They literally waited until 5 after and started to leave. I offered to chair even though I had never been to this meeting. Unfortunately to my dismay they started talking about how they had to grocery shop, do yard work etc.

After that experience I was able to see what can happen if no one acts as the chair. And i'm off topic :) Have a great Sunday.

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Re: Chair person

Postby Squawking Hawk » Sun Dec 16, 2012 5:35 pm

In response to the O.P, I think that there have been a lot of good shares on how one chairs a meeting. Don't recall if anyone has suggested this, but something that has always helped me over the years when I am doing any trusted service position at a new to me meeting, including chair, is to ask someone at the meeting if there is anything that I am uncertain about. Sure most meetings have a format for the meeting chair and it should be obvious. When I was first getting sober, I'd ask my sponsor what to do, even though I was following a format.

Much later on, I moved to a different part of the state and starting attending new to me meetings. And I took a turn chairing the meeting (for one month) shortly there after. After a week or so, a couple of folk came up to me after meeting to ask me, why didn't you set up the literature? This is something the chair is supposed to do. I said that I did not know this, but I do now. And made sure that I got there early enough to set up the literature. My point here is that if I had asked someone before I chaired the meeting for the first time if there was anything else that I needed to know, then the incident could have been avoided.

Addendum and unrelated to the topic at hand. The folk at the f2f meeting that I am referring are in my opinion, and as reflected in their group conscious, the group is a tad controlling, inflexible, and resistant to change. I could live with this for a long time because there was some good sobriety at the meeting and they were accepting in other ways. However, the meeting got smaller with difficulties finding people to serve in trusted servants positions. Lets just say that it was recently clear to me that it is time to move and to stop attending this meeting on a regular basis. I'm replacing it with another meeting

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Re: Chair person

Postby Tommy-S » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:37 pm

The first time I chaired, it was because I asked the obvious question, "What time does the 8 o'clock meeting start?"

They told me to get up there and start it. I was scared, but with the assurance they wouldn't let me get too far off course, I followed the format they had.

Most AA groups in places I have traveled to seem to have similar formats, with slight variations. One place had a Moment of Silence to Start, and the Serenity Prayer to close the meeting, with no "Our Father" in deference to the Islamic AA members.

Also, some groups prefer loose application of Robert's Rules of Order in that "All remarks must be directed to the Chair. Remarks must be courteous in language and deportment - avoid all personalities, never allude to others by name or to motives!"... Principles before Personalities as our 12th Tradition suggests.

One thing I rarely hear any more about the chairperson's function (and this may be remnants of religious upbringing of those who went before) is that the Chair channels the "Spirit" of the meeting.

For anyone taking the Chair, thanks for your service. :)

Tommy
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