Table of Contents, How To Manage Meetings Resources Page
Previous Section, How To Manage Meetings Next Section, How To Manage Meetings

Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Chapter 5. Meeting Roles

The final step in preparing for your meeting is that of assigning meeting roles to those who will assist you in the meeting. These meeting roles include Recorder, Facilitator, Participants, and you as Leader. Meet with the Facilitator to discuss his/her role. Meet with the Recorder to let that person know what you expect. Let's consider these meeting roles.

The Leader

  1. Start on time to indicate the importance of the meeting and show respect for those who make the effort to be there on time.

  2. Create a cordial, yet businesslike atmosphere by clarifying meeting roles and setting up ground rules for the meeting. Ground rules, such as not interrupting other speakers, everyone participates, stick to the agenda, complaints must be accompanied by solutions, no judgments on brainstormed ideas—whatever you think the group needs to do to create an orderly meeting. Create ground rules ahead of time or have participants create them at the beginning of the meeting.

  3. Use the agenda throughout the meeting. Start by going over the meeting objective and reviewing the steps of the meeting.

  4. Participate as a group member by stating your thoughts during the discussion. Wait to voice yours until after others' statements.

  5. Change the format of the meeting if you feel the meeting process is not accomplishing your objective.

  6. Summarize key decisions and actions. When Participants arrive at a point or a decision, paraphrase what has transpired.

  7. Tell the Recorder what to write on the board or the overhead transparency to record the "group memory."

  8. End the meeting on time.

The Facilitator

  1. Manage the "people" side of the meeting, so that the Leader can manage the "content" side, by making sure everyone contributes to the discussion, preventing speakers from interrupting others, and protecting people from verbal attacks.

  2. Monitor time spent on each agenda item, and keep Leader and Participants within the time frame allotted to that item.

  3. Listen for discussion "drift" and get everyone back to the issues at hand. Emphasize the meeting objective, if necessary.

  4. Monitor people creating problems and deal with them - tactfully, but directly.

  5. Refrain from offering your own opinions. Mediate conflicting opinions.

  6. Suggest other approaches when a process isn't working.

  7. Take your cues and direction from the Leader.

The Recorder

  1. Keep a visual record of the meeting without editing or paraphrasing what people actually say. Don't write until the Leader tells you to!

  2. Check regularly with the Leader and Facilitator to ensure accuracy.

  3. Try to capture the words expressed, not your interpretation. When in doubt, ask for clarification.

  4. Use key words and phrases. Don't try for complete sentences, but do try to capture the complete idea.

  5. Keep mental track of what has been said and done, in case the Leader or Facilitator forget or lose track.

  6. If note-keeping is stopping the meeting from going forward, ask the Leader to name an assistant. (Large groups may need several of you!)

  7. If you use a brown or white board, copy the contents for the Leader or ask another person to copy contents on a sheet of paper.

This role is very important since the results are sometimes the only documentation of what occurred in the meeting. In general, if you are taking minutes which will be copied and sent to participants, include: the date, time, and place of the meeting and those in attendance; agenda items with brief discussions and major contributors; problems discussed and decisions made; action assignments and deadlines. A sample form follows.


  1. Be prepared for the meeting, especially if you have a role to fulfill.

  2. Be on time.

  3. Participate fully in discussions. Focus on the meeting objective, and help to gain consensus. No social loafing!

  4. Listen to others' viewpoints without rushing to judgments based on your biases.

  5. Follow the ground rules, and avoid causing meeting distractions.


Meeting Objective:





Meeting Members

1. Leader:

2. Facilitator:

3. Recorder:

4. Attendees:

Meeting called by:


Agenda Item


Person Responsible

By When



Gets everyone to participate

Remains neutral in disagreements

Regulates discussion "traffic"

Focuses group on same issues

Protects people from attack

Monitors time spent on agenda items

Assists Leader in managing the meeting

Leader and Facilitator Actions

Let's differentiate the Facilitator and the Leader roles. First, can one person do both? The answer is yes, but not as well. Results are usually better when the two roles are separated. Meetings are usually shorter and more productive, so that follow-up meetings are fewer. If you use a Facilitator for several meetings, you will appreciate the difference. The following suggestions are for Facilitators, but if you don't have one in your meeting, you as Leader should follow these guidelines.

Serve as a discussion traffic director "Is everyone clear on these directions?" "Trent, hold that thought until we get to that agenda item!" "Have you finished? OK, now it's your turn to talk." "Are we getting anywhere now? Is it time to move on to the next item?" "Hold on; let's talk one at a time. Bill, you first, then Venita, then Patrick."

Command the attention of the group When a group gets frustrated, walk up close to them to get their attention, then indicate on the overhead or the brown board where the meeting is stalled and suggest a way to move on. If a group is silent, ask whether they're just thinking and need time or whether they need direction. ("Are you asleep or thinking?") Resist being a "ham." You are there to direct the focus of the group, not monopolize the conversation.

Ensure participation Be positive and encourage people. ("We're doing a good job here; keep going!") Ask quiet people for their input; stop those who dominate groups. ("Thanks, Jill. What do think on this, Jim?")

Restart when things go wrong If groups get bogged down, take them back to a previous point and encourage them to think in different directions. ("Looks like you're off track and some of you have tuned out. Let's backtrack and redirect the discussion.")

Distinguish between conflict and interpersonal confrontation People should be listening and reacting to ideas, not focusing on each other's personalities. Even if they seem to be teasing, derisive words linger in the air and in some people's minds. Foul language does, too, so ask people to refrain, even from slang and colloquialisms. ("That's one idea; let's record that. What do other people think?" and "Let's keep the language clean.")

Remember to focus on the meeting You are in a powerful position when you facilitate. Don't abuse this power. The group came to work, not listen to you, so let the participants do the talking, and don't bask in the limelight. If groups are doing well, step aside and let things happen. You may only have to speak every few minutes, so be brief and concise.

Remain neutral Even if Participants ask what you think, don't state your views on meeting content. Leaders can state their views; they are dealing with meeting content. Facilitators can't state their views; they're too busy tending the meeting process.

Westside Toastmasters on Meetup

Table of Contents, How To Manage Meetings Resources Page
Previous Section, How To Manage Meetings Next Section, How To Manage Meetings