Distributing roles in meetings and workshops

Episode 57 of #didntcancelwentdigital is about the topic of role allocation in digital workshops, meetings and co. The point of such roles is that the person primarily responsible (z.B. (workshop giver, speaker, speech leader) not having to do too much all at once. If, for example, another person provides technical support or collects the most important questions from the chat, the host can concentrate on the actual task.

Hi and welcome back to didn’t cancel; went digital! Here you will hear every Tuesday about a tool, a method or some tip for your own digital formats; and every Friday an interview with a person who tells about his or her own digital format. Today we’re talking about how you can distribute roles in digital meetings, workshops, etc. You know, if you use Zoom, surely this function of a co-host. So maybe you’ve been made a co-host before, maybe you use those yourself on a regular basis and appoint other people to be co-hosts so they can help you in your meetings and mute someone for example. If someone always forgets to mute their microphone and then in the background you hear rattling, rustling, the dog barking, the cat meowing, and so on and so forth. Then it’s very practical to have a co-host who can quickly click on "mute" so that it doesn’t disturb you any further.

And that would already be an example of a role that you can distribute in meetings. That can be meetings with your own team, with people you already know. But these can also be meetings, with "strangers", so something like workshops or lessons for example.

But there is always a "main person". So maybe you are there, maybe it’s another person. In teaching, for example, that would be a person giving a presentation. In a meeting that would be maybe one person sharing their screen and showing a presentation and telling the others about it, or or or. So there is usually one main person and this person has to concentrate on several things at the same time. So the person has to tell what he wants to tell first. She has to operate the technology. So for example has to share the screen and keep clicking the slides or move around in a digital whiteboard. She has to pay attention to what the others are saying, whether someone has a question, whether someone has raised their hand, whether it’s really into the camera or virtually or whether something has been written in chat. And of course it can be a bit exhausting. And especially maybe for people who are not yet digitally so mega affine, this is just super, super exhausting. And what you can do is to distribute different roles, so that the other people help. That means for "the main person" it is then less strenuous and for the others it has however also advantages. We will talk about that in a moment. And before that I would like to tell you what I can imagine in different roles. But maybe you can think of something else that you could assign as a good role.

Role: Moderate

On the one hand it is this moderating or calling, if for example several people have a question, that you then pay attention to who has called first? Or "Oh, that person is talking for quite a long time already. I have to interrupt them now, so that someone else can get a word in edgewise."So once this moderating would definitely be an important task.

Role: Technical support

Then the technology support something like for example to mute people. I already said that in the intro or to provide support via chat. So, for example, if someone writes "I can hear you very quietly", that you then write, for example, "Hey, have you checked whether you can turn up your own volume??"Or that you pay attention to such technical problems and try to help by chat or maybe even help again by other methods. So, for example, calling the person when they keep flying out of the meeting and then trying to provide technical support over the phone.

Role: Monitor chat

Then one role can be to pay attention to the chat, i.e. to look: What is being written in the chat? Is this a question that you really want to answer now, so that you could then interrupt the main person, for example, in his presentation and say "Wait, several people have asked What does the technical word actually mean?? Can you please explain this briefly?"Or questions, which are rather meant for later, that one then writes down/marks/however, in order to say then later "in the chat came in between the question after XY, could you there again on it go into it?"Or sometimes only things are written in the chat that are not important right now. So that one writes for example only agreement into the chat or something like a tip. "Hey, I read a book the other day called so and so, that was totally cool" and that can sometimes be very distracting, especially in meetings with a lot of people. If you hold a webinar and there are 100 people in the room and they write the whole chat, that can be really distracting as a speaker. And if you then say for example "Hey, person x Y, you please pay attention to the chat and please interrupt me if there’s something important in there. And apart from that, I’m just going to turn off the chat for me here, because otherwise it’s going to drive me crazy when I see new messages popping up all the time"

Role: watch the time

Then it can also be a role to pay attention to the time. That’s particularly exciting in formats where several people are speaking, i.e. if you’re holding a kind of workshop and at the end everyone briefly presents their results or something, that you say, for example, "Hey, make sure that each group has a maximum of five minutes" or "Make sure that the main part has a maximum of five minutes. 5 minutes, so that there is enough time for questions" So that you have a person who watches the time a little bit or who runs a kind of stopwatch and then says nicely "Hey, please come to the end of your presentation now"."

Role: Protocol

Writing minutes is of course a role that we already knew in analog meetings before Corona and that was not so popular most of the time, if we are honest. Personally, I have often volunteered to write minutes, because it has always made me fuchsig, if at any meetings, so for example in the honorary office, people had protocol duty, which then have not done so conscientiously. And I used to get annoyed and think "Yeah, why didn’t you write that down??"That’s why I did it myself in case of doubt. When writing the minutes. You can also pay attention to different things. That is, you could theoretically even write the minutes, divide them among several people and could say, for example: one person simply tries to summarize what was discussed and one person specifically pays attention to what tasks have been distributed. So who does what or what are the next steps the team has to do now. Or also something like: What are the next appointments that are coming up now and that have been arranged? So everything could do one person or could also be distributed to several people?

Role: pay attention to certain things

Then you can distribute another role or several (you can do this similar to the protocol) where you pay attention to certain things that were said or that were written in the chat and then write them down. So that could be open questions for example. So: What has not yet been clarified today?? Which questions the speaker could not answer off the cuff? What topic do we want to cover at the next workshop? So what then? Everything that goes in the direction of literature tips, for example books mentioned, podcast episodes or YouTube tutorials. If someone has written in the chat: "Hey, I know a cool podcast on this topic, I’ll put it in the chat" That’s of course great, if something like that is collected at the end, that you don’t have to click in the chat at that moment to see this tip, but that you can rely on the fact that everything is collected that has been mentioned here now. The same of course also applies to tool tips or something like method tips. So if someone has a recommendation or a link, that you collect that. Or also aha-moments. So what were some special moments in the discussion where a light went on in a figurative sense?? Or also the question: What do you want to share later?? [And here I can already give a spoiler, namely three days after this episode an episode will appear and there we hear about a book club, which was made by a club where you could no longer meet as normally on the weekend to do seminars together. And this club, the peer network Now, they then started a book club instead. And I also talked with Soren about the fact that it’s actually a shame when exciting things are discussed in this book club and you don’t even notice it from the outside. And we also talked about the fact that it would be cool, for example, if you were to write something like a blog post at the end about everything you took away from this book or what came out of it. So this question: What do you want to share? What do you want to use later for external communication?? Also that would be a role, which one could assign, that one thinks about there.

Role: feedback (+ thinking hats method)

Especially now with something like presentations you can also distribute the role that you pay attention to different things for the evaluation or for the feedback. For example, one group or one person can pay attention to the content and another person can pay more attention to the way the book is presented. So: Did you explain that well? Did you frequently say "um" and "uh"?? And was it therefore difficult to follow the whole thing? Or also the use of media: Did you create a presentation for it?? Did you create a digital whiteboard? Did you somehow use something like Prezi? How did you use digital media to enrich your presentation?? And the so-called thinking hats method also fits in with that. Maybe you have heard about it before. The thinking hats according to de Bono. This is a method where you have different hats. In the original, I think there are six different hats, each with its own color and focus. You can also adapt this for yourself. For example, I always use the hat method in my university teaching with four different hats: there’s an optimist, a pessimist. There is a creative hat and a structured one. Someone then puts on these four different hats or wears a different hat. usually there are 2-3 people who wear the same hat and they evaluate what they have heard in the editorial meeting. Only from this perspective. So the people who have the optimistic hat on, they only see the positive, they only see the opportunities, they only see what went well or what could be done even cooler. They are totally enthusiastic about the idea. Those who wear the pessimistic hat only see the risks, they only see what could go wrong. They only see what might be too much, what might be too much work, what might go wrong. Those with the creative hat always look: How could one make the ideas even more creative, even more unusual or even more innovative?? And the structured hat, it sort of wants to know: Ok, nice idea. What is the next step now? He would look, for example: What would you have to pay attention to in order to make this feasible?? What are the next steps or what are the milestones on how to approach this idea now? And in my university workshops this always works very, very well, because the students say that they can then concentrate better on what they hear, because they don’t have to try to give feedback for everything and nothing, but because they already have a focus through this hat and can then look through the glasses of the hat and only look for the risks or only for the things that are good or only for the potential where something could be done even more creatively. And yes, those are now the four hats that I use. But of course you can use other hats as well. And this is a wonderful way to distribute these different roles in meetings, workshops, webinars, and so on.

Advantages of distributed roles

Distributing different roles brings different advantages. On the one hand, it takes the pressure off the person giving the presentation, because you don’t have to concentrate on everything at the same time. Instead, you can really focus on your own presentation, or the paper you’re giving, or what you’re presenting. For the people who are listening, it increases the concentration, because you are not just participating in the meeting or just listening to a webinar, but because you are paying attention to something specific. Of course you have to be careful that the task is not too demanding, for example that you are so busy writing minutes that you can’t really pay attention to the content, but if you have the feeling that the task is too complex, that you mitigate it or distribute it to several people. And the third advantage is that, as a rule, a better result comes out of it. So, for example, if you say several people write the minutes, one person pays attention to the content, the other person pays attention to the next steps, etc., then usually a more detailed and better protocol comes around, than if only one person would have had this task. And everyone benefits from this later on, when you say: Okay, the meeting is now well prepared, or the workshop is now well documented, or the feedback on the presentation has been written down very well, and I can now continue to work on it very well.

Distributing roles in meetings and workshops

And more examples from me: For example, I always assign a support role when I have any other workshops and webinars. This means mainly to watch the chat in case I miss something there and to mute people in case they forget to do it themselves after they have joined in. So this is the standard for me, what I understand by support. With the students I do different things. I just told you about these thinking hats and what I also do is that I always give a protocol service. So speak in the editorial meeting there are then always these hats. And there is one person who writes protocols and then that changes regularly as well. And this is usually not such a popular task. But I always show my gratitude and I am very, very grateful to the students who do it. And I think, at the latest when they read something in the protocol of their own feedback, which they have received, then they are also grateful that there is this protocol. And if you want to learn more about the thinking hat method, I’ll link you to another podcast episode in the tell about it podcast. I have already talked about this method as a feedback method that can be used internally. I have just described how to use it in a workshop. This method is really super diverse and if you want to know more about it, feel free to listen in there.

That’s it for the solo format on the topic of "role distribution in meetings". If you want to know more methods and tools and co, then listen to this format every tuesday. And of course we are open for your suggestions. If there’s anything in particular you’d like us to pick up on here, feel free to Instagram it or email it to us and we’ll see if we can pick that up as well. Thank you very much for listening and see you next time.

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