I'm so glad I don't chair any groups. For having seen, last night, the chairman of a rail user group in action, I think to myself "there, but for the grace of God, go I".
Some 'credits'. Newcomers were being welcomed / chatted to. The women (I make the gender point intentioanlly!) were making sure everyone had a tea or coffee. The meeting was (correctly) started a few minutes after the scheduled time - a bit of a tradition with this group as there are always one or two stragglers late in. Our chair told a personal story that provided a link into our guest speaker, told us a bit about that speaker and told the speaker a bit about the group and what we wanted to hear about from him, and confirmed roughtly how long he was to talk for.
Those of us who wanted to make notes during the presentation could have done with some light - we were placed into pitch darkness prior to the presentation, illuminated only by the glow from the projected slides. And we could have done without the sound of music from elsewhere in the building making it quite hard to hear the speaker.
An hour passes - a pleasant mixture of things I already knew / standard slides but ones which others may well not have seen before, and new / updated interesting material, numbers, comments ... and we get to that "fateful" final slide - "Any Questions".
Yes, of course the chairman has himself a series of questions, and we launch into some of them ... with a pause after a handful to let some favoured members of the audience who he knows ask questions too. There's a tendency for people to ask multiple questions, and for the chair to step back and let off-topic elements ride for quite a while, but in time the chair comes back and adds another question of his own.
The chair *does* go somewhhat around the room, "noticing" his pals, and (good on him) first time attendees to the meeting. Then when there's just one of this group left - I can predict it - "We've time for just one more question". The question is asked and answered. It then turns out that there is time for another question from the chair (must be his 5th or 6th) which is duly asked and answered, then a vote of thanks ... and a quick set of announcements from the chair about upcoming meetings, changes and other things that he wants us to know about, and the meeting concludes. There's one particular member who does a "may I but in and let the group know ..." to get a wider input of his information; he's very knowledgable, he's the late arrival, and he's well known - he "gets away" with it. Many readers will know him, smile and acknowledge his passion, and admire how he gets around and attention even with mobility issues.
For the rest of us? Those who are not favoured by the chair? The user group's membership sales pitch suggests that members can listen to and ask questions of expert speakers. No - that's not the case unless your the privelidged few. These days there are looks back an forth between some of us in the audience who know we won'd be called - watching the chair "at it" again as he does at every meeting. To some extent, I would weep if I wasn't laughing because these days our rail contacts do provide us with other routes where something important needs to be raised, and its scarsely worth joining the scrum of previous questioners as they gather around the speaker after the meeting to re-make, or perhaps carry on the convesation about, the issues they have already raised.
Like I said ... this is not a pitch for a chair role anywhere. I would make the "hogging" mistake at least, I know. Seeing the example does remind me what a good job Chris and Frank, Peter and Colin do at the meetings that I attend from time to time, and I commend them for that! (written 2014-09-25, updated 2014-09-26)
Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articlesZ801 - Pettifog 
International awareness - (2004-09-17) 
Too sittings - (2004-10-13) 
Rude old people - (2004-10-16) 
1 in 48 steel - (2005-05-24) 
You cant - (2005-09-08) 
And it gets even better - (2005-10-21) 
Watch what you wear - (2005-10-26) 
New Road - (2005-12-06) 
Smoke and mirrors - (2006-01-12) 
It costs nothing to say THANK YOU - (2006-02-11) 
A pile of sand? Where do we stand? - (2006-03-08) 
Good follow up ... my thanks - (2006-06-28) 
Strange housewarming - (2006-07-03) 
Time trickles like water through a sieve - (2006-07-27) 
Fighting illegal net use by imposing download limits - (2006-08-09) 
Smoking, or no? The law insists we spell out the obvious - (2007-05-01) 
A series of tyre damages - (2007-09-08) 
Cash is not an acceptable way of paying - (2007-09-13) 
Age Concern - (2008-08-07) 
Think before you send - (2008-09-02) 
Job application - (2008-10-13) 
Remember your units - (2008-10-31) 
Pettifog and forum boards away from public view - (2009-01-03) 
Commission Creep - (2009-04-08) 
Excellent product, excruciating customer service. 3 Mobile Broadband - (2009-05-21) 
Both feet on the same pavement - (2010-02-05) 
A small business, facing a big government questionnaire - (2010-05-12) 
Cost of Sales - (2010-06-01) 
The cat in the dustbin - (2010-08-27) 
What others cannot do in 10 months takes Virgin 10 minutes - (2010-09-03) 
Audio equipment - (2010-10-24) 
Liquorice allsorts and Dolly Mixtures - (2010-11-05) 
Can you trust the big brand names? - (2010-12-12) 
Are you a half full or half empty person? - (2011-05-25) 
Removal of water safety equipment, and how to use a lifesaver ring - (2012-06-04) 
The Information age - not yet truly with us? - (2012-08-12) 
The Xxxxx Guest House in Xxxxxxxxxxx - my stay reviewed - (2012-10-20) 
Riots in Melksham - (2013-07-13) 
The important customers are the majority, not the celebrity - (2013-09-08) 
On tipping - and the expectation of a tip - (2014-07-10) 
Wiltshire Police - assuming someone is guilty just on the say-so of a member of the public? - (2014-12-16) 
The story behind the bus cuts, and what they could mean - (2016-01-24) 
Pressure selling in the fire safety business - (2016-02-19) 
Celebrating our diversity rather than discriminating for it - (2016-11-02)
Some other Articles
What can you and I learn from online quizzes?Identifying and clearing denial of service attacks on your Apache serverFour time target - good news. Four time prediction - poor forecasting.Learning to program in Java - yes, we can help.Please do not ask me to be the chair!Libre Office - unable to get past REOPEN WINDOWS? questionSunday is never quiet at Well House ManorPerl - still a very effective language indeed for extracting and reportingPublic courses - Autumn 2014 and 2015The Best Bed and Breakfast in Melksham?