Co-host or Producer?

You have probably heard that a Producer can help you run your virtual meetings.  That is true, but do you know what a Producer is and do you actually need one?  When you are hosting a virtual meeting, should you have a Producer, will a co-host do or can you get by on your own? 

Is there a difference between those two roles?  What is the difference?

Yes, there is a difference. 

Both a Producer and a co-host perform certain tasks for you, leaving you free to concentrate on the meeting attendees and agenda.  What tasks they perform is where the difference comes in.

Most virtual meetings that you host are more casual in nature – they are more like a group of attendees getting together to have routine conversations about work. Occasionally, however, you may find that your meeting gets a bit more complicated or has a larger attendance.  When you move from managing it alone to having a co-host to having an actual Producer is a gray area but here are some guidelines to help.

What is a Producer?

Producer is more of a formal job that requires someone with more technical experience to perform.  Think of the Producer like a TV Show Producer – they manage all the moving parts but don’t contribute to the meeting as an attendee.

What is a Co-host?

A co-host is a more informal role that any member of a team can perform.  Think of a co-host as a second host.  They can fill in for the host for either a few minutes in the beginning or for the entire meeting if need be.  Their role is to make sure the meeting starts on time and runs more smoothly.  The co-host is also a part of the team so they will be involved in the meeting as an attendee at the same time.

When do I need a Producer or co-host?

Co-hosts are good for meetings that have a “medium” number of attendees. Defining medium is up to you but usually a dozen or more is a good rule of thumb.  They are also good for meetings that have guests who may need a bit more help than the usual attendee.  Since this is an informal role, co-hosts are good for those meetings that are not using any virtual meeting platform components (i.e. no polls or whiteboards etc).  You may also find them beneficial for those meetings when the host might not be able to start the meeting on time.

Producers become beneficial for complex meetings as they can focus on watching the attendees and the technical parts while the host runs the meeting.  Producers are a bit harder to find because they require a higher level of technical skill with the specific virtual meeting platform you intend to use. 

How do I work with a co-host or Producer?

When working with a co-host be sure and have a conversation prior to the first meeting.  Be clear about what you expect of that person, especially if the role will be rotating between different team members.

Working with a Producer requires a bit more preparation and meeting structure.  There are more technical moving parts when using a Producer, so you will need to have a very clear plan for meeting.  What order will the agenda take?  How will the break out rooms be configured?  How long will the poll be left up before the results are show.  Just like a TV show, the Producer needs all this information in order to run the meeting smoothly.  Scheduling a dry run of the meeting is a really good idea, for both you and the Producer.

Break down of tasks.

There is some overlap of the roles and this is not an “engraved in stone” list of tasks but it gives you a pretty good idea about the differences between the two.

Open the meeting room (Zoom) 
Start the recording feature
Lead if the meeting host is late
Greet attendees as they arrive
Help with quick technical issues
Get the conversation started
Give a brief rundown of the agenda
Handle some of the meeting topics throughout the meeting itself
Add information into the chat window
Do quick research to answer any queries
Record the chat window content
Monitor time for the agenda 
Action Item/Note taker
Share meeting details with attendees
Is usually an active member of the meeting
Open the meeting room (Zoom)
Start the recording feature
Manages the Chat window
Alerts the Host if there is a comment/question to address
Handles technical issues – offline
Manages the waiting room
Creates and opens breakout rooms
Manages other tools – i.e. Polls
Cleans off the other tools – i.e. Annotations on the screen
Bring attendees to the notice of the host
Acts as the official timer for events
Start/pause any videos
Open/prep any external websites
Is usually there in a more technical, outside capacity

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