How to Avoid the (Dreaded) Leader-less Meeting

Have you ever been in a meeting where there is no clear moderator (or facilitator) and nobody seems to care about taking notes? Yeah, we’ve all been there.

Typically these types of meetings result in conversations wandering aimlessly along with any clear direction or outcome to be focused on. The leaderless meeting can be a complete time-suck for employees at all levels – wasting valuable working time in a conference that has no facilitator to push the conversation towards a meaningful goal.

If this sounds like your meetings, you need to turn things around—and fast. One idea is to introduce a few changes.

A recent blog written by Jack Welch describes how useless meetings will make or break your career by the way you are perceived in them. And the same can be said about if you continuously schedule useless meetings. But it’s more than perception, it’s about wasting time and ensuring you can deliver as a team.


How to fix it:

  1. Assign a facilitator and note taker

Seems simple right? It is.

Every meeting that you go to should have a clearly identified facilitator and note taker. This simple task of assigning these two roles can nearly instantly turn your meetings around.

These two roles should be decided upon, and the power should be granted to the people filling the positions, prior to the meeting starting.

Facilitator responsibilities

  • Create a meeting agenda.
  • State the purpose of the meeting at the start.
  • Start the conversation.
  • Ask pointed questions about agenda items.
  • Keep the conversation on track without stifling creativity.
  • Determine deliverables and solicit ownership from attendees.
  • Make an effort to include everybody.
  • Assist note taker as necessary.


  1. Clarify responsibilities

Often times when leaderless meetings happen it’s because responsibilities and guidance have not been given to the meeting facilitators. The people who fill the positions of facilitator and note taker should not only be informed of what their responsibilities are – they should be fully capable of performing their duties.

Note-taker responsibilities

  • Organize notes by agenda item.
  • Keep track of deliverables, timelines and owners.
  • Ask clarifying questions.
  • Summarize agenda topics to attendees
  • Draft follow-up emails to attendees with notes, deliverables and the corresponding accountable parties.


Take action, inspire action 

Take initiative and be adamant about valuing your time and the time of your team members.

A good leader and facilitator can improve both the process and the outcome of meetings. Take the time to train your employees on how to facilitate their meetings and you have the potential to improve productivity greatly. If that’s not an option, you can take action and help your colleagues who are leading meetings develop some basic meeting facilitation skills.

Meetings don’t have to be bad. In fact, meetings serve a very important role and are used by the most cohesive and collaborative of teams. They could be powerful, important, and impact your company’s revenue positively. Those are the best meetings.

But careless meetings and leaderless meetings can absolutely ruin the productivity of a team or a company. So don’t be afraid to cancel a meeting that is not going to serve a purpose or drive towards a goal.


Learn more about improving your meetings

At ReadyTalk, we love meetings and have a lot of information to help you improve communication, collaboration and meetings. Read more about this and other common meeting mistakes and pitfalls including bad organization, lack of concentration, and bad technology. And if you can avoid these, you’ll be on your way to hosting more successful, productive, and purposeful meetings.

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