Facilitator, Recorder, and Timekeeper Roles
- The facilitator helps the group focus, and assures that all may participate and that none dominate. The facilitator should remain neutral. Choosing a competent facilitator who does not have a stake in the issues at hand helps build trust among group members and facilitates dialogue and decision-making. The facilitator manages the time for each discussion in accordance with the agenda; the facilitator also needs to be able to contain and end discussion when necessary. Having a facilitator allows the leader to focus on the substance of the issue, while the facilitator manages the discussion.
- Much time is wasted if no record is kept of decisions and assignments. Assign the role of recorder to someone who can listen and be objective and accurate. The recorder needs to understand the technical language of the group and be able to summarize and write down only what is important. An effective recorder may write notes of the discussion on flip chart paper in full view of attendees or take notes on a laptop and project them on a screen for participants to see. Transparency in recording helps reassure the group that its deliberations are being fairly and competently reflected in the notes.
- Assign the role of timekeeper to help the facilitator move the group through the agenda. This reduces the amount of stress on the facilitator or the leader who must manage the discussion. Telling someone that their time has expired is always hard to do; but it is often an essential discipline within meetings.
Option: Rotating Meeting Roles among Participants
By rotating these roles, the group becomes self-managing and responsible. Different group members develop skills of facilitation, agenda preparation, and recording.
- Rotate responsibility for meeting facilitation and agenda preparation; the formal leader does not always need to lead the meeting.
- The facilitator for the session should prepare the agenda, and the person who will lead the next meeting might record for the current meeting.
- The recorder should record only followup responsibilities and decisions reached, and should distribute the notes within 72 hours.
- At the end of each discussion, the recorder should confirm with the group what was decided.