An important role in meetings, the timekeeper definition in this context is someone who ensures productivity and consistency by assisting the chair in moving the members through the agenda items. They ensure that the correct time is allocated to all items so none are left unaddressed during the meeting. If a speaker takes too long, the timekeeper is responsible for notifying them to move along.
Roles and responsibilities
Here are the primary responsibilities of the meeting timekeeper:
Adherence to the agenda
The timekeeper must ensure that the meeting discussion adheres to the topics outlined in the agenda. They should have a thorough understanding of all agenda items to ensure that the predefined time slots are followed.
A timekeeper is responsible for keeping the meeting on schedule by tracking the time each speaking member takes and ensuring they remain within the allocated slot.
Alerting the chair
If the predefined time for an item is about to run out, they must notify the chair.
Providing reminders to participants
The timekeeper must also give gentle reminders to the participants who have the floor if they need to wrap up. This is to ensure that all members get a chance to participate in the discussions. Non-verbal cues can be used to alert a member that their time has run out.
Here are the techniques timekeepers use to keep meetings on track:
- Use of timekeeping devices: Physical or digital devices, such as stopwatches, smartphone apps or laptop programs can be used to track the elapsed and remaining times for each agenda item discussion.
- Agenda time allocation: During agenda creation, estimated time slots should be assigned to each topic’s discussion depending on their priority and complexity. The timekeeper must familiarise themself with these and ensure each slot is respected.
Pre-arranged signals to communicate when to move on: Before meetings, timekeepers should consult with the chair and participants to come up with cues to notify time constraints. These should be subtle, following the proper meeting etiquette to avoid disrupting the flow. For example, they can hold up their fingers to indicate the minutes remaining, use a digital device to send gentle reminders or show time cards.
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