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In addition to making sure the participants understand their general role in the meeting, e.g., subject matter expert, process expert, historian, take the time to assign meeting management roles.

Every meeting needs four roles filled:

  • Leader: The leader is the person who “owns” the meeting. She is responsible for approving action items, follow-up activities, decisions.

  • Facilitator: The facilitator is the person who runs the meeting. Often in regular business meetings, the facilitator and the leader are one and the same, but many leaders allow another to facilitate the meeting so that the leader is free to be more of a participant.

  • Time Keeper: The timekeeper is responsible for keeping an eye on the time—this is especially important if the meeting needs to address a number of essential issues in a limited amount of time.

  • Note Taker/Recorder: This is an essential role that is all too often overlooked. Somebody must be responsible for tracking and recording key meeting outcomes. Decisions, action items, and next steps must be articulated and recorded!

Meeting leaders who assume all four roles are setting themselves up for defeat. Share the roles as best you can. Trying to manage participation, take the notes, keep the time, and contribute to content is a recipe for failure. Get participants involved and invested in the success of the meeting by assigning and rotating roles.