Loïc Thomas Profile Picture    Loïc Thomas
 in  Meetings
3 minutes

How assigning roles will make your meetings more successful

Have you ever left a meeting and said to yourself, “That it was pointless”? There are lots of reasons why a meeting might be bad. An excellent way to counteract them is to split up three key roles and assign them to certain participants.

Let’s look at the roles that will make your meeting more effective: the facilitator, timekeeper and decision director.

Why should you assign roles?

Of course, you can play all the roles in a meeting but the more at stake in a meeting, the riskier that choice is.

Why? Because what makes a meeting successful is the quality of content discussed and the attitude of participants. And it’s challenging to manage the two dimensions at the same time while also leading the meeting. It’s hard in person and even worse when you’re remote.

So, delegate some of your role and divide responsibilities among your participants.

What key roles will energise your meeting?

The three main roles during a meeting are facilitator, decision director and time keeper.


This key person plays an important role in running a good meeting. They have to adapt their behaviour and their methods based on the group dynamics.

Are the participants falling asleep? The facilitator can kick off an interactive activity to get everyone re-engaged (like a Word cloud or a company tree).

Is one participant monopolising the discussion? The facilitator can change the meeting format and introduce an activity that enables everyone in the group to express their thoughts. For example, they can expand the discussion with a brainstorming session or take the group’s temperature with an ROTI activity).

The facilitator has to make sure:

  • All attendees actively participate in the meeting
  • Participants are will to share their viewpoints even when they’re opposing
  • Participants listen to each other
  • Debate doesn’t get bogged down
  • Participants keep the goals in mind throughout the meeting
  • Notes are taken throughout the meeting

To be successful in their role, here’s what the facilitator should and shouldn’t do.

→ What to do:

Restate, observe, stay neutral on the substance of the discussion, call on people to speak, keep the atmosphere relaxed, remind people about the goals throughout the meeting.

→ What not to do:

Get annoyed, direct the substance of the discussion, clearly state their viewpoint and lose their neutrality, only speak to some of the participants, overlook silences.

Decision director

This role consists of effectively supporting participants through the process of making decisions. This task can sometimes be done by the facilitator but it should most often be assigned to someone who can then take responsibility for the decision.

Should the decision be taken through consensus or a majority vote? Are the decisions the group is getting ready to take realistic and applicable? Who will take responsibility for implementing the actions related to the decision?

There are lots of responsibilities to assign to decision directors!

To play this role successfully, here’s what the decision director should and shouldn’t do.

→ What to do:

Choose how the decision will be made (directive or participative with unanimous or majority vote), put the impact of the decision into perspective, assign responsibility for actions to implement, make sure skills/knowledge necessary for taking a decision are in place before the meeting.

→ What not to do:

Display their own viewpoint to influence others, allow the group to take unrealistic decisions, fail to assign responsibility for the decisions taken.

Time Keeper

To accomplish a meeting’s goals, facilitators and decision directors have a tendency to go deeper into discussions, which can make the meeting run long. You need a time keeper to counterbalance this natural tendency and keep the meeting to a reasonable length.

Their role is just as important before the meeting as during. Before it starts, the time keeper makes sure the time allotted for each activity is realistic. For example, a 10-minute brainstorming activity on a topic that’s critical for the group is unlikely to end on time.

To play this role successfully, here’s what the time keeper[K.1]  should and shouldn’t do.

→ What to do:

Calibrate the length of time scheduled for each activity before the meeting, remind attendees about the time allotted at each stage of the meeting, regularly interact with the facilitator and decision director so they know when to adapt what they’re doing based on meeting progress, make suggestions about what to do when things get off track.

→ What not to do:

Limit yourself to announcing that time is up for a particular activity. Curb debate by always putting time limits on discussions.

What other roles can to take your meetings to the next level?

  • The scribe is responsible for taking notes and creating the meeting report. Ideally, the scribe will share the notes they take live.
  • The graphic designer creates a visual representation of what is discussed. Their illustration will ideally be shared in real time. This practice improves comprehension and helps people look at things from a new perspective.
  • The illustrator supports the meeting through illustrations, usually in caricature form, to help participants get a new perspective. Their drawings are shared at the end of the meeting.
  • The improv actor acts out a few skits during the meeting to help participants analyse a situation.
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