The Roles and Responsibilities of a Meeting Leader

Meetings Are Unlikely to Be Effective Without a Good Leader

Businesswoman leading meeting in conference room
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The meeting leader is the employee who is responsible for planning, organizing, managing the details about, and inviting the participants to a meeting. He or she is the employee who is in charge of and responsible for the progress of the actual meeting. They take specific actions before, during, and after the meeting to ensure that the meeting reaches its goals successfully.

What Is a Meeting Leader?

The meeting leader is key in making meetings and teams successful. In some meetings, the leader is already the department head, the team leader, or the person appointed by senior management to lead an initiative. These employees were selected for their leadership role because of their perceived skills as a manager or leader.

Other times, an employee may emerge as the leader naturally. These leaders are employees that other employees look up to and respect. On other occasions, a team may decide to rotate the leadership role among all members. This allows all team members to continue to develop their skills as meeting leaders, and in creating successful meetings, in general.

Responsibilities of the Meeting Leader

Here are some of the key responsibilities of a meeting leader.

  • The meeting leader determines the goal, task, or purpose that must be accomplished in the meeting. This is often an assignment or part of the leader’s job description.
  • The meeting leader decides whether a meeting is the best possible method for obtaining the goal or purpose or attaining the desired outcome. Answer the question: is a meeting needed?
  • The meeting leader determines who needs to help plan the meeting.
  • The meeting leader decides upon the agenda for the meeting. (In ongoing meetings, this task is accomplished at the end of the current meeting.)
  • The meeting leader determines the date, time, and location most frequently using a shared organizational calendar.
  • The meeting leader puts together meeting pre-work such as reading, financial information, history, related team meeting minutes, and so forth.
  • The meeting leader invites participants and distributes assignments and pre-work allowing as much time as possible so participants come prepared to the meeting.
  • The meeting leader ensures that the meeting has a recorder or minute taker to document the proceedings and any commitments, action items, or decisions. She also appoints a timekeeper when necessary for the orderly conduct of a meeting.
  • The meeting leader may use an icebreaker to warm up the participants and create an environment in which the meeting participants are comfortable communicating with each other and exchanging ideas and information.
  • The meeting leader arrives early and leads the meeting by keeping it on track and involving all participants so each feels that their presence was essential at the meeting. This ensures their participation in the next meeting
  • The meeting leader spices up the company meeting so that participants don't feel dull and bored. Whether using icebreakers, humor, or fun examples, no meeting should end without a laugh.
  • The meeting leader ensures that the next steps and action items are assigned and handled.
  • The meeting leader debriefs the meeting and plans the agenda for the next meeting.
  • The meeting leader follows up with participants between meetings to make sure that action items are on track and to offer assistance and/or resources if the volunteer is experiencing problems.

Additional Leader Roles

The meeting leader takes on these responsibilities but also has roles related to communication, reporting, and teammate performance.

Every member of a team or meeting that is cross-functional has an obligation to keep his or her department or function informed about the activities and progress of a meeting or an ongoing team. They also have the responsibility to seek input from coworkers who are not on the team or in the meeting. Not every employee can attend every meeting.

If a meeting participant is performing ineffectively in the meeting, the leader has the responsibility to correct the behavior through effective meeting leader techniques during the meeting and effective coaching outside of the meeting. A meeting participant who monopolizes the meeting with his or her opinions or criticizes other members for theirs must be corrected before the individual sabotages the meeting’s success.

The Bottom Line

An effective meeting leader doesn’t guarantee that a project or team performs successfully, but he or she is a key contributing factor when projects, departments, meetings, or teams succeed.