The Three Key Roles in a Conference Call

Expert Author Gihan Perera
There are three key roles in a conference call:
  • Organiser: You're the person who schedules, arranges and brings the conference call together. You might also be on the conference call itself as the "host", either participating actively or playing more of an administrative role managing the technology.
  • Chair: You're the person running the meeting during the conference call itself, just like the chair of a face-to-face meeting.
  • Participant: You're a participant in the conference call. Of course, this includes the chair as well.
There's some overlap between these roles, and they're not necessarily always done by different people. However, all three roles are important, and all play a part in making the conference call successful.
Each of the three roles has different objectives. It's important to know these objectives as well, so the call runs smoothly.
Different people take on different responsibilities during the call. Broadly, the organiser takes on primary responsibility before and after the call, and hands over responsibility to the chair and participants for the call itself.
Note that we're only talking here about responsibility for the call. Everybody involved must still take personal responsibility for their own outcomes.
Chair
Your main objective is to conduct the business of the call, whatever that business happens to be. Even if a meeting is dominated by a vocal minority - or even a vocal majority - that doesn't mean their view should prevail. It's up to you as chair to manage the call so the overall objective is met.
Organiser
Your main objective is to help the chair achieve this objective.
Think of your role as removing obstacles for the chair - things like:
  • Technology obstacles
  • Scheduling obstacles
  • Preparation obstacles
  • Agenda obstacles
  • Participant obstacles
  • Time obstacles
Focus on the things that make the chair's life easier.
Participant
Your main objective is to contribute appropriately to meeting this objective.

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