The key roles associated with effective meetings are the same for in-person and virtual meetings. In any meeting, there are four key roles: leader (chair), facilitator, timekeeper, and recorder. In a virtual meeting, it is helpful to include two additional roles: tech keeper and chat monitor.
It may be tempting to take on all of these roles yourself; however, by enlisting support from others, you won’t have to worry about the technology and running the meeting.
You may want to request support or assign roles and provide expectations ahead of the meeting. Otherwise, you can ask for volunteers at the beginning of the meeting.
As the leader (chair), you convene the meeting. Before you send a meeting invitation, determine what technology you will use to convene the meeting (e.g., Microsoft Teams or Webex). Send the invitation from that tool, and include all the information participants will need to join the meeting.
If this is the first time participants are joining a meeting online, you may want to:
- Include a link to some basic information about the tool being used. You can find some resources here.
- Give everyone time and tips to get familiar with the tool at the beginning of the meeting. Or, plan on opening the meeting 5-10 minutes prior to its start time, and let participants know they can join early for this purpose. We created some introductory slides with tips for using Microsoft Teams (PPT) and tips for using Webex Meetings (PPT), which you can copy and paste into your own presentations.
The facilitator keeps the discussion and decision-making process moving along.
You should review the meeting objectives with the facilitator, and together determine which tool allows you to best meet those objectives. For example, if the meeting objective is to check in to ensure everyone is doing okay, a video conferencing tool is probably the right choice.
To select the best tool, you should also consider the number of participants and how much discussion or how many questions you expect. The facilitator should decide how to take these questions. Video conferencing tools allow for participants to “raise their hand” or submit questions via chat.
The timekeeper ensures participants stick to the time allotted for each agenda item. They remind the group when time is almost up for a given item.
If the timekeeper is assisting either you or the facilitator, they should establish ahead of time how they will alert you that time is expiring. This may be as simple as the timekeeper unmuting their audio and announcing the time at critical moments. Or, they can use the private chat function within the tool to alert just you or the facilitator.
The recorder (note taker) captures important items such as decisions made, questions to be answered at a later date, and action items.
Depending on which video conferencing tool is being used, there may not be a need for a recorder. Some tools allow you to record the entire meeting. If this is not desirable, you could ask participants to submit proposals and questions in the chat function. The chat can be saved, thus creating a record of what was discussed.
The chat monitor keeps an eye on the chat box and calls out comments that are related to the agenda item.
The tech keeper assists those who might have technical issues so you can continue to tend to the meeting (this should be someone who has experience with the platform). This person can also watch for participants who raise their hands, initiate polls, etc.