A chairperson is a person who presides over meetings, such as a board of directors for a corporation, or any other meeting. The chairman of a corporation is not the chief executive officer, and only conducts the meetings in most companies.
Although "chairman" has been used for both men and women, some prefer to use the terms "chairperson", "madame chairman" or "chairwoman." The conduct of meetings is governed by the organization's by-laws or charter, or, more formally, Parliamentary procedure for government organizations or large meetings generally. Rarely the chairperson is called the "chair," though in educational institutions a "chair" indicates a specific endowed position on a faculty.
Duties at meetings
In addition to the administrative or executive duties in organizations, the chairman has the duties of presiding over meetings. Such duties at meetings include:
- calling the meeting to order
- determining if a quorum is present
- announcing the items on the order of business or agenda as they come up
- recognition of members to have the floor
- enforcing the rules of the group
- putting all questions (motions) to a vote
- adjourning the meeting
While presiding, the chairman should remain impartial and not interrupt a speaker if the speaker has the floor and is following the rules of the group. In committees or small boards, the chairman votes along with the other members. However, in assemblies or larger boards, the chairman should vote only when it can affect the result. At a meeting, the chairman only has one vote (i.e. the chairman cannot vote twice and cannot override the decision of the group unless the organization has specifically given the chairman such authority).
Images for kids
An example of a chairman in action - Sam Ervin (right), chairing the Senate Watergate hearings, 1973
Chairperson Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.