5 crucial roles you should assign in every meeting

Love them or hate them, meetings aren’t going away anytime soon, so it’s up to you to make them as productive as possible. I’ve recently been on a crusade to optimise meetings within my team because there is ample evidence to suggest that businesses waste hundreds of thousands of pounds every year on pointless meetings.

A recent global study from Barco Clickshare highlighted some interesting stats about meetings. For example:

  • 38 per cent of people have fallen asleep in a meeting;
  • 55 per cent have only attended for free food; and
  • 41 per cent are guilty of getting distracted by their phone or computer.

Last month, I wrote a LinkedIn article providing tips on how to maximise the productivity of your meetings. As a follow-up, I’d now like to share some insights I read from ‘Meetings Suck’ by business guru Cameron Herold.

He believes every meeting should have five key roles: the moderator, the parking lot, the timekeeper, the closer and participants. Assigning suitable people to these positions brings much-needed focus to the agenda, so let’s take a closer look at each one.

The Moderator

Moderators act as the chairperson for the meeting, ensuring agenda items are efficiently covered and everyone stays on track. Discussions can quickly go astray, which is when a disciplined moderator should step in and return structure to the proceedings.

The moderator role isn’t just reactive, however. They must also kick off the meeting and remind everyone about the topic for discussion and key objectives. A good moderator must also try to encourage more introverted participants to join in, so that it’s not just the most vocal employees getting their opinions across.

The Parking Lot

I mentioned before how meetings can go off track, but what if some of the ideas people are throwing around are later worth exploring? The parking lot is where these suggestions can live to fight another day, even if they’re not on the current agenda.

Simply designate someone as the parking lot and it will be their job to jot down any interesting notions that would be best discussed in a follow-up meeting. You’ll have to decide whether it’s the parking lot or the moderator who has the final say on what topics make the cut, as you won’t want any overlap in responsibilities.

The Timekeeper

As the name suggests, the timekeeper’s primary function is to ensure meetings run on schedule. One of the biggest problems with unproductive meetings is they are allowed to drag on for too long. The timekeeper keeps a watchful eye on how much time each agenda item has been allotted and reminds participants when the clock is running down.

The timekeeper can also be tasked with making sure the agenda is covered in the correct order, provided your moderator isn’t already fulfilling this role.

The Closer

Closers are responsible for assigning duties and timelines at the end of every meeting. The most senior person in the room or the organiser of the meeting are often the best closers, but why is this role important?

Well, the closer summarises everything that was discussed and ensures everyone understands what commitments they have made, as well as any relevant deadlines. This removes any confusion and prevents people from showing up to the next meeting without having done the work they were assigned.

The Participants

Do you ‘assign’ participants? Perhaps not, but you should always select which people should attend a meeting and for how long for maximum productivity. Participants should be well prepared and ready to contribute, which is why setting a clear agenda before the meeting and letting everyone know in advance what topics will be covered is important.

Your job as the meeting organiser is to create an environment where everyone is able to engage in healthy conflict, so that ideas can be debated on their merit without tensions rising.

Are you getting the most out of your meetings?

Approximately one-third of employees said less than half of their meetings are useful, according to Barco Clickshare. The study found there are many factors that have an impact on meeting efficiency, including technology use, room layout and disturbances from latecomers.

However, every little helps, and by assigning the key roles I’ve mentioned above, you can boost the productivity and efficiency of your meetings today. At the very least, you can hopefully stop the 38 per cent of people who are currently using your daily meetings to catch up on some sleep!

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