How To Chair An Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Meeting and What to Expect

Updated: Jan 22

Are you about to chair an AA meeting and don’t know where to start? Perhaps this is your first time chairing a meeting, and you want to make sure it goes well?


Maybe you are looking to chair a meeting in the future and want to know more about it? Whatever your reason might be, here is what's it like to chair an AA meeting.



Chairing an AA meeting can be a daunting task, especially if you have never done it before. You want to make sure that it's done properly and that you can help those in the meeting on their journey.


How To Chair An AA Meeting?


When chairing an AA meeting, you lead the AA meeting.


You will want to be warm and welcoming to all members and ensure they feel safe and comfortable in your presence.


To help you know how to chair these meetings, keep reading to find out more!


Before You Chair


Before you can chair an AA meeting, you will need to meet some criteria. You can check this information directly on AA’s website to see if there have been any recent changes to the criteria. To chair an AA meeting, you will need the following:


  • To have a minimum amount of sobriety (depends upon the group you attend)

  • Sign up to chair the meeting

  • Have access to the keys, security, and be responsible for setting up and tidying the meeting space

  • You will need access to previous meetings content to help your meeting

  • Information from the treasurer about the money and how this is submitted


The criteria can change depending on your location and current guidelines, so be sure to keep up to date with these. If you are unsure, you can always reach out to other AA members for further advice, too; make the most of the community you have access to!


The Meeting


Let's take a look at how the meeting could run. Remember, this is only a guide to chairing an AA meeting. You might want to run it slightly differently depending on the needs of your group, and that is okay to do. Just be sure it works for you.


Planning Beforehand


When it comes to the meeting itself, I recommend using the 12-step literature to select a topic.


You can access this online easily or reach out to other AA meetings for it if needs be. Why not ask other chairs about some of the topics they have used in the past? You can use this to create a plan for the meeting.


A plan will help you stick to time and cover everything you want to in the meeting. Take the plan with you to the meeting so you can reference it if needed.


Remember that discussions can often take longer than anticipated, allowing plenty of time for people to share. In some meetings, they have a standard 3 - 5 minute share limit so that everyone has a chance to share.


Starting The Meeting


AA groups usually have a notebook for you with copies of pages for you to read from to start the meeting. This is your meeting guide and tells you exactly what to say.


There are a few ways to ask someone to share. You can ask that each person share and then the person on their right or left will share next. Another option in a meeting is to call on people to share. You can have speakers with solid sobriety to start and close your meeting. Alternatively, you can start yourself, sharing an experience that will help set the tone of the meeting (it's best if this fits in with the theme you have selected).


Most AA meetings follow this format:


  1. AA Preamble

  2. Moment of silence

  3. Serenity Prayer

  4. Newcomers Intro

  5. "How It Works" from the AA Big Book

  6. Meeting sharing and discussions

  7. 7th Tradition Contribution

  8. Closing Prayer


Meeting opening and topics


After reading the opening from the group's notebook or folder, you can move on to discussing the topic of the meeting. You might want to share some quotes from the literature here or draw on other experiences. You will want to keep your topics and conversations free from judgment.


These meetings are not a place to judge someone's past decisions but to offer the experience to learn from and move forward. You should also leave any bias at the door; these meetings are a safe space!


You can draw on the 12-steps literature here to explore the theme of the meeting. If the meeting is a discussion meeting, this would be the time to open the floor to those who want to share.


Open The Floor To Discussion


Once you have covered the topic of the meeting, you can open the floor and ask if there are members who want to share.


Encourage them to share anything they wish; it doesn’t necessarily have to relate to the topic of the meeting if they feel that it's important.


Be sure to allow them space free from interruption to share where their feelings will not be judged.


You don’t need to have an opinion on their feelings, simply offer the space to share, ask some questions if you feel it is appropriate, and thank them for their contribution today.


Remember, not everyone will want to share, and that's okay. Avoid forcing anyone to share their information and simply encourage anyone who wishes to speak to speak. In the cases that no one speaks, you might wish to share some of your own experiences, but be mindful not to spend too much time talking! It can be tricky to balance, but after a meeting or two, you will get the hang of it.


Close The Meeting


To close an AA, meeting, participants usually stand and hold hands. Sometimes the facility allows room to get in a circle, other times people just stay where they are and hold their neighbor's hand.


At this time, everyone will recite the Lord's Prayer, if they'd like. This is optional so those who do not want to say this, do not have to. Some groups close with the Serenity Prayer instead. And some close with their preamble or the promises.


Extend the offer to members to chair the next or future meeting, which can help boost self-esteem and confidence with your members.


Final Word


And there you have it, a brief guide on how to chair an AA meeting. You don’t need to follow this to the letter, but it will offer plenty of inspiration and food for thought.


Remember that the focus of your meetings should be on your members and that you should do what is best for them always!


The video below explains what an AA meeting is like and also touches on chairing a meeting.