Chapter 5. Meeting Roles


Chapter 5. Meeting Roles

The final step in preparing for your meeting is that of assigning meeting roles to those who will assist you in the meeting. These meeting roles include Recorder, Facilitator, Participants, and you as Leader. Meet with the Facilitator to discuss his/her role. Meet with the Recorder to let that person know what you expect. Let's consider these meeting roles.


The Leader

  1. Start on time to indicate the importance of the meeting and show respect for those who make the effort to be there on time.

  2. Create a cordial, yet businesslike atmosphere by clarifying meeting roles and setting up ground rules for the meeting. Ground rules, such as not interrupting other speakers , everyone participates, stick to the agenda, complaints must be accompanied by solutions, no judgments on brainstormed ideaswhatever you think the group needs to do to create an orderly meeting. Create ground rules ahead of time or have participants create them at the beginning of the meeting.

  3. Use the agenda throughout the meeting. Start by going over the meeting objective and reviewing the steps of the meeting.

  4. Participate as a group member by stating your thoughts during the discussion. Wait to voice yours until after others' statements.

  5. Change the format of the meeting if you feel the meeting process is not accomplishing your objective.

  6. Summarize key decisions and actions. When Participants arrive at a point or a decision, paraphrase what has transpired.

  7. Tell the Recorder what to write on the board or the overhead transparency to record the "group memory."

  8. End the meeting on time.


The Facilitator

  1. Manage the "people" side of the meeting, so that the Leader can manage the "content" side, by making sure everyone contributes to the discussion, preventing speakers from interrupting others, and protecting people from verbal attacks.

  2. Monitor time spent on each agenda item, and keep Leader and Participants within the time frame allotted to that item.

  3. Listen for discussion " drift " and get everyone back to the issues at hand. Emphasize the meeting objective, if necessary.

  4. Monitor people creating problems and deal with themtactfully, but directly.

  5. Refrain from offering your own opinions. Mediate conflicting opinions .

  6. Suggest other approaches when a process isn't working.

  7. Take your cues and direction from the Leader.


The Recorder

  1. Keep a visual record of the meeting without editing or paraphrasing what people actually say. Don't write until the Leader tells you to!

  2. Check regularly with the Leader and Facilitator to ensure accuracy.

  3. Try to capture the words expressed , not your interpretation. When in doubt, ask for clarification .

  4. Use key words and phrases. Don't try for complete sentences, but do try to capture the complete idea.

  5. Keep mental track of what has been said and done, in case the Leader or Facilitator forget or lose track.

  6. If note-keeping is stopping the meeting from going forward, ask the Leader to name an assistant. (Large groups may need several of you!)

  7. If you use a brown or white board, copy the contents for the Leader or ask another person to copy contents on a sheet of paper.

This role is very important since the results are sometimes the only documentation of what occurred in the meeting. In general, if you are taking minutes which will be copied and sent to participants , include: the date, time, and place of the meeting and those in attendance; agenda items with brief discussions and major contributors; problems discussed and decisions made; action assignments and deadlines. A sample form follows .