Roles and responsibilities
How formal your group is is entirely up to you and your membership but you might want to consider appointing a committee in order to share the workload to avoid all responsibilities falling on just one person. It also offers shared ownership of the group so here are some roles to consider:
The Chairperson is responsible for overseeing the running of the group and its activities. They should work with other members of the coordination team to ensure that any meetings run smoothly. They must ensure that there is full participation in meetings, relevant topics are discussed and effective decisions are made and actioned. A chairperson should be voted into the position by the delegate, shouldn’t serve in the role for longer than twelve months, and should not stand to be re-elected for more than two consecutive terms.
The Vice-chairperson supports the chairperson with any group related tasks that the chairperson may need them to undertake on their behalf. It is the responsibility of the vice-chairperson to assume the elected chairperson’s responsibilities in their absence. The vice-chairperson should also be elected by the delegate, not serve in the role for longer than twelve months, and should not stand for re-election for more than two consecutive terms.
The secretary is responsible to support the chairman and vice-chairman in the smooth running of any meetings which includes maintaining up to date records relating to the group, taking meeting minutes, the upkeep of communications and correspondence and providing the agenda for each meeting. The secretary should note any topics brought up by the group that need further discussion and add them to the following agenda.
Occasionally it might be worth assigning one or two people the task of evaluating a meeting to assess how the meeting was run, what seemed to go well, areas that could be improved and that it was timely. Ideally this will be a different two people each time and this could be done every third or fourth meeting for example. It’s a wonderful way to involve the whole membership as well as encouraging input from members who might not want an ongoing assigned role. The evaluator should keep in mind and feedback to the secretary any topics that were not fully resolved that may need to be carried over to further agendas.
It can be a little daunting for new members that come into an established group, so having someone responsible for welcoming the delegate into the meetings provides members old and new with a friendly face upon arrival. Some people may need additional assistance or some questions which companions can help with if not they can suggest someone who can. The companions provide a friendly face that sets the group’s positive tone. Companions should have good people skills and be able to make people feel welcome and at ease.
The topic coordinator introduces attendees to the meeting agenda at the beginning of the session then throughout the meeting introduces new topics of conversation or guest speakers. They work with the timekeeper to ensure the meeting stays in line with the agenda as much as is reasonable and that the time spent on each subject is constructive.
Understandably meetings can easily go on for many hours as there will be plenty of attendees who have lots to contribute. Whilst it is important to encourage this enthusiasm and incorporate as many points of view into the discussions when meetings are too long people can lose focus. The timekeeper is responsible for keeping the overall meeting to a reasonable length and ensuring that all attendees have a fair opportunity to have their voice heard. Some established groups use a signalling system such as hand gestures to indicate to anyone speaking when it is time to move on to another speaker within the group. Your group may want to develop such a system to alert anyone addressing the group that isn’t a guest speaker that they need to draw their point to a close. It is important for the timekeeper to identify when a discussion is constructive enough to continue and let those conversations happen.