Did you know that in every meeting, there are 3 essential roles?  Or rather every effective meeting has these 3 roles.

Yes, they are often handled all by a single person, but it can be quite effective to split them up as well, not only to share the load, but to increase ownership over the meeting, it’s content, and the time we’re spending in it.

But before we go any deeper, what are these roles?


The facilitator is most often the person who organized the meeting and wrote the agenda.  They are responsible for keeping the meeting on topic and moving along. (This means tabling irrelevant sidebars and steering the conversation back to the intended purpose.). This job is a biggie, and the larger the group, the more it can feel like herding cats! But it’s a necessary role if you don’t want to have to have the same meeting next week.


The notetaker is responsible for, well, taking notes.  The notetaker is then well poised to quickly and easily send out the meeting recap (see previous article). Another bonus? When a meeting recap is sent out not everyone has to take their own notes.


Are your meetings always running over?  The timekeeper is essential.  The timekeeper keeps an eye on the clock, and the agenda, and lets the facilitator, and everyone else, know when it time to move on or wrap it up. The timekeeper can also help set the stage the the beginning of a meeting, by reminding folks that “this is a 50 minute meeting” or “we’ll be spending the last 5 minutes of this meeting adding our action items to our task systems”

Why are these roles so important? And why should we call them out individually?
Sure, you might be doing all these roles at once and perhaps without even realizing you were playing multiple roles. And I bet that at times, you’ve found it quite stressful (or frustrating!) to keep meetings on topic and on time. It’s a lot for one person to handle. And you can do it if you must. 

But splitting these roles, and doling out the responsibility, can help everyone stay engaged (something that’s become more difficult in the era of Zoom meetings), and help to keep us all driving towards the goal of the meeting.

Another tip? Try rotating the roles for recurring meetings. Rotating responsibility builds empathy and skills, and it helps ensure that unconscious bias (or conscious bias for that matter) doesn’t weasel it’s way into your meeting.

Not sure what I mean? Let’s make sure that the only woman in your staff meeting, for example, isn’t always on note-taking duty. Even if she’s “really good at it”.

Are you running hybrid meetings? 

Some folks onsite all in a room and others dialing in?  Try doling out the roles to some of the folks calling in to make sure they have an opportunity to engage and aren’t forgotten.