Whether you’re facilitating a meeting or participating in one, you have an important role to play and duties to fulfill. Collectively, these roles and obligations work together to produce meetings where things get done. When they’re omitted or ignored, your meetings become unending complaint fests or time-sucks everyone tries to avoid.
Meetings are an inevitable part of your day-to-day professional life. Meetings provide a great opportunity for team members to exchange ideas, discuss objectives, assign roles and responsibilities, convey expectations and basically align the whole team. Productive meetings have proven to be also an effective way to increase employee engagement and collaboration, as well as accountability and shared sense of purpose.
Whether you are running a meeting or simply attending one, you have to remember that each employee who is present at the meeting plays an important role and has duties to fulfil. Collectively, all these roles and duties work together to produce productive meetings and run the business successfully.
There are four main meeting roles. Those include the meeting leader, the meeting recorder, the timekeeper and the participant. Sometimes, the meeting recorder can also be the timekeeper. As mentioned above, each one of those roles is equally important in order to conduct an efficient team meeting. However, the most important role is definitely played by the meeting leader. The team leader is, after all, responsible for having the meeting in the first place.
The following article will thoroughly examine the role of a meeting leader and provide useful information on how to run meetings efficiently and productively if you’re ever in that role. Stay with us till the very end!
What is a Meeting Leader?
If you don’t want your next meeting to turn into a chit-chat session with no structure or relevance to the current project, there has to be someone put in charge of it.
A meeting leader is a manager, team leader or a team member who is responsible for planning, organizing and managing all the details surrounding a meeting, including inviting participants, creating agendas and preparing a conference room. A meeting leader is responsible for the progress of the meeting and whether it will turn out to be a productive and fruitful event that will benefit the final goal of the team.
Meeting leaders are the ones who take specific actions before, during and after the meeting to ensure that the meeting will reach its final objective successfully. They were appointed (usually by senior management) to lead this initiative because of proven leadership, organizational, speaking and listening skills. In many teams, however, members decide to rotate the leadership role among all members. This allows everyone to develop their skills as a meeting leader.
It’s important to understand that a meeting leader is not an authoritarian figure. They are not there to exercise power and control by telling everyone what to do or say and how to react during the discussion. They are there to inspire, motivate and encourage team members to share ideas and participate in a meaningful conversation.
What are The Responsibilities of the Meeting Leader?
- In charge of meeting details
Meeting leaders have to consider the following:
- Is the meeting date and time convenient for everyone? (This is very important when you work with an international team and have to schedule a global meeting.)
- Who needs to attend the meeting and whose presence is optional?
- Where would the meeting be held? Is it going to be an online video conference or a room has to be booked?
- Will there be any clients attending?
- What equipment will be needed?
- What decisions should be made during the meeting?
- In charge of the agenda and meeting minutes
A meeting agenda is basically a meeting’s outline or script. Good meeting leaders create an agenda that is easy to follow and covers all important points.
The meeting agenda is created around two main points: what will be discussed and in what order. If you don’t have an agenda, participants will chaotically (and illogically, for sure) jump from one topic to another. The meeting will ultimately turn into a disaster.
In addition to preparing the agenda, a leader might also be in charge of taking meeting minutes during the meeting. Sometimes, there’s a designated note-taker who will record everything but not every time. Therefore, a leader should be always ready to take meeting minutes.
Meeting minutes represent a written record of everything that is happening during a meeting. Their goal is to inform everyone, especially those who were not able to attend the meeting, what were the decisions made during the meeting, what’s the progress of an event or a task and what are going to be the next steps.
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- Maintain a positive atmosphere and encourage participation
A meeting leader should promote free exchange of ideas and encourage team members to express their opinion and views. The leader’s job is to pay extra attention to personal attacks or negative comments and immediately react. A meeting should be about going over the agenda, aligning the team and progressing with the project. If someone hijacks the discussion or you feel like someone wants to say something that’s bothering them but it’s not related to the agenda, schedule another meeting.
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- Assign meeting roles
The meeting leader is the one who assigns meeting roles. If, for example, a secretary who was in charge of taking meeting minutes didn’t produce a satisfactory document after the meeting, that’s on you – the meeting leader.
The leader decides who should attend the meeting and who shouldn’t. It’s important to understand the type of meeting and whether you can be inclusive or exclusive. Remember, having a room full of people is a waste of time and company resources. A meeting is not a meet-and-greet, after all. You need the right people who will participate in the right discussions.
- Assign action items
Having a great agenda and a positive meeting atmosphere means nothing without actions. We’ve all been to meetings where tons of things were said and discussed but everyone walked away with little direction and no plans.
A meeting leader is responsible for assigning tasks, keeping track of action items and holding team members accountable for getting things done. You can do all that by using the right management tools. Disseminating agendas can be done through Google Docs, for instance, while assigning action items to individual participants can be done through project management apps like Asana or Jira.
- Listen and Communicate Effectively
A meeting leader should be a great listener and an even better communicator. A leader should listen to what everyone else is saying and accurately rephrase ideas and conclusions for mutual agreement and understanding. This helps with misunderstandings which often occur in teams.
Leaders can perform this task by simply saying “So, what we’ve decided here is that we should complete X task before moving on to Y task and we will use Z method to complete it.”
- Use Icebreakers / Prepare Team-building activities
This point right here is especially valid for leaders who have to manage teams remotely. A meeting leader may use an icebreaker to warm up the attendees and create a positive and open environment.
With working from home becoming the new norm, many meeting leaders are also faced with the task of organizing virtual team building activities who are very important for lifting spirits, increasing employee productivity and loyalty and improving collaboration.
Tips for Meeting Leaders: How to Run Meetings Effectively
- Be positive about it. Yes, leading yet another meeting might irritate you, however the sooner you embrace a positive attitude about it, the better you and your team will feel. Remember, being a leader doesn’t mean sitting behind closed office doors. Meetings are your stage and it’s showtime!
- Own it! This is your team, your project and your meeting. Don’t give all the hard work to your secretary and don’t think all you have to do is just show up. Be responsible for the meeting agenda and for the way a meeting is run.
- Preparation is key. You can’t just “wing it”. Craft a good agenda and stick to it. HIghlight priority topics and focus on them.
- Try various types of meetings and see what will work best for you – daily huddle meetings, stand-up meetings, etc.
- Team meetings are about working together towards a common goal. If there’s a problem you have to solve it collectively. Hear everyone’s thoughts and opinions before jumping on to the final decision.
- You can spice things up by inviting a guest speaker, watching a video related to your project together or incorporating team meeting games.
- Be a role model. One day, you want to be remembered as a great leader but you won’t get to that level of appreciation until you learn how to maintain high standards. Be funny and casual but don’t let your guard down. You are there to do a job. The success of the company and the future of its employees depends on the projects you are discussing during meetings, after all.
An effective meeting leader might not be able to guarantee a successful project completion or a significant increase in profits, however he/she can definitely be a game-changer for the way your company sees team meetings. And, if a team meeting is done right, employees will feel inspired, motivated and cherished. This is directly related to work productivity, company loyalty and a decrease in turnover rates and employee burnout levels. Think about this when you enter a meeting next time.