The Designated Meeting Captain

April 25, 2020

by kendra lock

The company meeting means a plethora of different things to each staff member.  You have the "show-offs," eager to impress the boss.  They are first to respond and vie for every project.  You might have a "Romeo" or two that are solely present to catch the eye of the smart admin you hired the week before.  We must not forget the meeting bully or Debbie Downer's that squelch every good idea ever announced. 

Hopefully, in the mix, you have a handful of shy super-stars.  These employees are your quiet go-getters that are the backbone of your organization.  They always get the job done and in a way that threatens no one.  You leave your personal files locked away in their desks.     

Whatever "work family" you've birthed - it is imperative that everyone gets their opportunity to share and contribute during meetings.  If you've ever walked out of a meeting having a hunch that someone had a great idea or solution but didn't speak up - you're hunch is spot on.  It happens every meeting.

There's nothing worse than a productive meeting that goes off the rails and everyone's having their own private conversation with the folks they're sitting next to.  Even worse - the whisperers!  Or the meeting hog that won't allow anyone else the floor.  In order to have a productive focused meeting, you have to assign a Meeting Captain.

In larger corporations, the department head normally organizes and sets the tone for his or her meetings.  Small businesses are run by the owner and that's a precarious spot to be in, at times.  Plus your crew feels more like family.  It's not always easy being the Big Time Boss.

Model and grow your team.  Allow everyone some time to shine.  An easy first step is by selecting a different Meeting Captain for every new meeting.  Becoming the designated Captain is a hard job.  Your meeting captains will receive flack, no doubt, so get everyone involved.  Set up guidelines and have the Captain read them aloud before every meeting.  They should resemble something like this:

1.  Politeness always - never interrupt another employee mid-sentence. 

2.  Designate a round-robin style meeting where everyone gets a shot at chiming in.

3.  Allow for a couple of intermittent free-for-alls where the meeting does go off the rails just to dissipate nervous energy.

4.  The Captain provides an Agenda that is read from start to finish at the top of the meeting.  Dictate and announce how long the meeting will take.  Request that everyone present look alive and make a real contribution to the meeting!

5.  As the meeting begins the Captain needs to be cognizant of keeping focus and order.  No cross-talk!  Stay on point!  It's not easy but the Captain will politely and ubiquitously need to remind the group to stay on topic.  He or she will probably have to redirect the conversation and focus many times throughout a single meeting.  

Publicly thank the Meeting Captain and lead the group in applause at the end.  

Be ready to tap the next employee as the designated Meeting Captain at least a day before the next meeting - giving that person an opportunity to man-up or get their power suit pressed!