3 Required Roles You Need to Create a Return When Running a Meeting

Written by Paul Marchildon, on February 12, 2014.


“I don’t do meetings. At Chanel, there are no meetings. At Chanel, we do what we want, whenever we want and it works.” Karl Lagerfeld

You don’t need Karl Lagerfeld at your meeting. Scratch him right off your list. Chanel’s head designer can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants – but, I promise you, everyone under and around him has meetings to implement, produce, and market whatever Karl is thinking up. Concepts don’t just pop into existence and onto a runway. Meetings make them reality, or at least, they are a critical component towards that end.  One of the keys to effective meetings is not only knowing who must be there – the people at Chanel seem to have this down – but what they should be doing. What are the roles that enhance every meeting and contribute to its efficacy?

Everyone invited to a meeting has to either impart some value or be able to take value away. If you don’t fall into one of those two groups, then you should politely excuse yourself from the meeting. That being said, there are also important roles that need to be filled. While they may not be filled by the same person each time, they do need to be owned by someone (and this someone should know in advance!):

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  • Chair or Facilitator. This is the person who owns the meeting. Setting an agenda, facilitating discussion, and keep the conversation on-target all fall under his or her purview. The chair might be a SME (subject matter expert), particularly if the meeting is focused on a particular technical issue or product. Other times, it is a leader who can keep people on topic.
  • Note-Taker. “What’d we decide to do? Who’s doing what?” It’s unbelievable how common it is to spend an hour talking about something and then have no clear idea what happened. Especially if the meeting is after lunch, or there’s a PowerPoint and the lights are dimmed. The note-taker documents the meetings, noting items agreed on, next steps, accountabilities, due dates, and other critical information.

Ideally, within 24 hours, this person circulates the minutes. In many businesses, including those I’ve worked in, information is outdated a day later. If he or she types it on a computer in realtime, all the minutes need are a little wordsmithing, and they can be distributed almost immediately after the meeting wraps.

  • Parking Lot Attendant. Next time you’re in a meeting, watch and listen. You’ll see how far the discussion can digress from the agenda. Sometimes, great ideas come up, but they don’t move us towards the goal of the meeting. We don’t want to risk losing them, so one attendee will take a note and put them in the “parking lot”.

This could be a corkboard, whiteboard or a big sheet of poster paper. You can go electronic with it – but often those ideas get lost in digital noise or in an avalanche of emails and other data. A central paper parking lot allows everyone the same level of visibility, and by assigning a permanent location for the parking lot in the boardroom then those ideas can be discussed at future, relevant meetings – and not eat into the time required to complete the task at hand.

Most of us have to “do” meetings; but we don’t have to do them in the same inefficient way. Filling these central roles takes us one step closer to creating meetings that have purpose and help us drive our objectives forward.

Paul Marchildon

Paul Marchildon

A self-proclaimed Leisureologist and Motivational Speaker, Paul Marchildon applies his vast expertise in human engagement to help leaders create more productive, effective organizations. Building on an influential career as a pioneer in employee incentive and loyalty programs, strategic creative communications, social media and mobile marketing, Paul provides insight into the advantages of incorporating a leisure culture in the "work" place. He is past president of Society of Incentive and Travel Executives’ (Site) Canadian Chapter and founder of Atlantis Creative Group (now part of Maritz Canada). He is one of a select group of Canadians who have received the Certified Incentive Travel Executive (CITE) designation.