Assigning roles before the meeting
At the end of a meeting, it is very common for participants to question the real purpose of the meeting. Poor preparation, lack of structure, poorly defined objectives, lack of clear decisions, a missing of general commitment and role assignment are all causes that can compromise the success of your meeting. One of the key steps in preparing for the meeting is to define the roles of the participants so that they can prepare for the meeting, ensure that it runs smoothly and that the objectives are achieved. In order to promote optimal commitment from the entire team, each employee must understand his or her role. As is too often imagined, the involvement of participants is not limited to the day of the meeting. To ensure the effectiveness of the meeting, participants have a role to play before, during and after the meeting.
The 4 key roles
1. The organizer: a facilitator
To ensure the success of your meeting, it is best to have someone in charge of its organization. The organizer acts as a reference throughout the process and defines the objectives of the meeting. He or she justifies the need for the meeting to the participants as well as the expectations that arise from it. During the meeting, he/she also acts as a facilitator and facilitates exchanges. Key qualities? The facilitator is organized, communicates with ease and knows how to set realistic objectives.
2. The editor: secretary of the meeting
The editor is obviously one of the main roles and contributes greatly to the success of the meeting. Throughout the process, he/she feeds the content and keeps the participants informed. As such, the editor must be attentive and concise in order to capture the essence of the discussions.
3. The time keeper
Appointing a time keeper for each of your meetings will prevent you from running out of time and prolonging the meeting. This person will be responsible, on the day, for informing the organizer if the time scheduled for an item is exceeded. Therefore, the organizer of the meeting must define the total time of the meeting beforehand, or better yet, define the time allowed for each point. However, the time keeper will not have any particular role to play after the meeting; he or she will only be required to read the minutes carefully, just like the other participants.
4. The participants, prepared and proactive
While the roles of the organizer and the editor are essential, each participant is expected to be involved in making the meeting count. To ensure the effectiveness of the meeting, participants should be attentive and actively involved in the discussion when requested. This means asking all the questions necessary for the successful completion of their respective tasks and ensuring that they have all the resources they need.
Organization in time
According to these 4 roles, let’s now look in detail at the organization in time for each of these people. Before the meeting, it will be necessary to prepare and share the agenda items with the collaborators concerned so that everyone is on the same page. This will ensure the quality and duration of your meetings. During the meeting, you will write the minutes by adding notes, decisions and tasks to the agenda items in real time. You won’t waste time rewriting the minutes after the meeting. After the meeting, each participant should be able to instantly access the minutes and take note of what needs to be done from one meeting to the next.
Before the meeting
The meeting organizer determines the date and location of the meeting. He/she is then responsible for drawing up the agenda by defining in a logical order the topics that will be discussed. He/she must also describe the role of each participant and ask himself/herself which people should be called to participate in order to invite only those who have a real impact on the meeting. Once the participants have been selected, the organizer can foster collaborative preparation of the meeting by asking the speakers to prepare, in advance, the points they will be presenting.
In collaboration with the organizer, the editor is the guarantor of a well-completed and organized agenda. Both of them compose the framework of the meeting and think about the logical order of the items to be discussed. It is also important that the editor attaches the necessary external documents to the agenda so that the participants can read them before the big day. Once the agenda has been validated, the editor makes it available to the participants in order to inform them in advance of the topics that will be discussed during the meeting.
The person who will be responsible for keeping the meeting on schedule finds out from the organizer how long the meeting will last. Ideally, both define the time given for each item so as not to exceed the total time limit for the meeting.
It is essential that each participant has familiarized himself/herself with the agenda prior to the D day. This will allow everyone to be engaged and feel a sense of ownership of the meeting. It is common for some participants to act as speakers during a meeting. They can therefore fill in the agenda to prepare and document their contributions. This will greatly facilitate the smooth running of the meeting and save precious time for the entire team. If the participants do not have an agenda item to write, they can still take notes privately in order to prepare their statements, questions or reactions to a given topic. This way, on the day of the meeting, they will not forget important elements and will avoid having to contact a colleague after the meeting to ask questions that have already been answered.
During the meeting
During the meeting, the organizer acts as leader. The organizer’s first priority is to ensure that the agenda is respected and to avoid any distractions that could prolong the meeting unnecessarily. As an introduction, it is a good idea to remind participants of the purpose of the meeting so that everyone feels involved from the start.
In most cases, the organizer also assumes the role of facilitator to ensure the quality of the exchanges and discussions. He or she must ensure that the debate does not get out of hand and that each participant has the opportunity to express his or her opinion on the subject at hand. The goal is to maintain a positive atmosphere that is supportive of constructive discussion.
In order to facilitate note-taking and ensure the traceability of important exchanges, the organizer collaborates closely throughout the meeting with the editor. The organizer ensures that the editor has enough time to summarize the discussions and, above all, to record the decisions that result from them.
In conclusion, it is advisable to remind all participants of the major decisions that have just been made. The organizer should also emphasize important next steps: Should the date of the next meeting be set? Is each participant aware of his or her tasks and responsibilities? The goal is to ensure effective follow-up from one meeting to the next.
At the time of the meeting, the editor writes the minutes of the discussions, taking care to be concise and systematic. The important thing is to note the essential points, sometimes taking the risk of shortcuts, so as not to lose the thread of the discussions. Formulations and spelling can be reviewed later during the proofreading phase. The most important thing when taking notes in real time is to highlight the decisions made during the meeting so that they are clear to all the participants. In a more operational approach, the editor also takes charge of delegating any tasks resulting from the decisions to the people concerned.
During the meeting, the timekeeper keeps a constant eye on his watch to ensure that the meeting’s timing is respected. If necessary, he or she will not hesitate to discreetly call out to the organizer to point out that the time limit has expired. The facilitator can then shorten the discussion by getting to the point in order to make a decision. At the end of the meeting, the time keeper announces the end of the timing to all participants.
Too often, participants in a meeting are distracted and more likely to check their cell phones than to pay attention to the discussion. When we attend a meeting, we need to be 100% attentive in order to get the essential points across. It is especially important to be attentive to the decisions that the meeting is making in order to keep in mind the final objectives and contribute to their successful completion. Listening, contributing to the discussion and not getting distracted are all part of the responsibilities of each participant. In short, be active and involved during your team meetings!
Finally, participants should not hesitate to ask questions at the end of the meeting to ensure that they have understood the tasks for which they are responsible. It is essential to think about the operational part of the meeting so that the activities performed are a success for the whole team.
After the meeting
After the meeting, the organizer ensures that the tasks are completed and that each participant does not encounter any difficulties that could prevent him/her from progressing and reaching the objectives. With the help of the editor, he/she allows each participant to access the minutes of the meeting so that everyone can review the content, take note of the tasks assigned and the next deadlines.
After the meeting, the Editor reviews the notes taken live in order to format them, complete them and correct them if necessary. The goal is to make the speakers’ words as clear as possible. Once the minutes of the discussions have been reviewed and validated, the editor also makes sure that all the documents to be transmitted are made available to the participants. Once this is done, the minutes can be sent to all the participants who can then refer to them if necessary. The minutes must be precise enough to be understood by those who were not present at the meeting or by other external members. A careful and organized transcript will promote effective communication between employees and facilitate the organization of the next meeting.
No more than 24 hours after receiving the minutes validated by the organizer, the participants must read them carefully. It is much easier to read the minutes when the meeting is fresh and you still have the main objectives in mind. Each participant should then take the time to note down all the tasks that have been assigned to them. They will make sure to respect the deadlines for these tasks, especially if they must be completed by the next meeting. If necessary, participants will not hesitate to ask for help from their managers to ensure that the objectives are met in the time given. And remember, asking for help is not an admission of weakness, quite the contrary!
Bonus: preparation, the key phase of the meeting
Through this article, we see how well-defined roles promote an effective meeting. This is why the preparation phase is essential for a good meeting. If you take the time to properly prepare your meeting, by defining the objectives, inviting the right people, assigning them specific roles and carefully preparing your agenda and its timing, your meeting will be a real success! We have listed 4 key roles here, but it goes without saying that there are many other important roles: the decision-maker or the mediator are all roles that can be assigned according to your internal policy. It is simply a matter of each participant being aware of his or her impact on the smooth running of the meeting and on the achievement of the objectives. It is often forgotten that organizing a meeting is a real team effort and is not the sole responsibility of its initiator. By adopting this approach, you will undoubtedly improve the efficiency of your company meetings! Of course, there are digital tools that will help you make your meetings efficient.
With WEDO you can prepare your meetings as a team, write the minutes in real time and track the tasks assigned from one meeting to the next.