It is always awkward at the start of a meeting. Everyone is talking, and chit chatting, and need to get down to business. Establishing meeting roles will help.

There are five roles that need to be played during the meeting: a facilitator or leader, a time keeper, a ready and willing flip chart recorder or erasable board writer, a secretary or minute taker, and positive and productive participants!

The facilitator or leader plans, prepares, and presides over the agenda and the meeting process. The facilitator or leader manages discussions and decision-making activities, and evaluates the meeting to make future meetings better.

The timekeeper is responsible for keeping the meeting moving along and following the schedule to make sure all of the agenda items are covered. The timekeeper watches the clock so staff won’t get bogged down or drift off into other topics.

The flip chart recorder or erasable board writer writes as fast and legible as possible, recording and displaying information as it is presented. This information should be collected and combined with the minutes.

So that leads us to the minute recorder or secretary. The minutes taker or secretary provides written play by play and is responsible for keeping a record of discussion topics, decisions, tasks, assignments, deadlines, and the names of participants.

Finally, there is the positive and productive participant. Each attendee should stay focused and listen to others’ ideas, contribute to the discussions, refrain from side conversations, takes some notes, and NOT leave the meeting for NON-emergency reasons.

Start the meeting by assigning roles and reminding participants that meetings are not a spectator sport. Meetings need to produce results. It is our role to make sure that happens. Rotate the roles regularly so every member of the team gets a chance to polish their skills.