In a perfect world, a meeting would involve participation from all the attendees. Ideas and opinions would float around freely, in order to solve problems and gain new insights.
However, this rarely happens.
In most meetings, only a small number of attendees actively contribute. Valuable ideas and contributions are frequently missed out on.
As a leader/manager you can increase the value of your meetings by using a few simple tactics, to get more participation from 3 segments of the workforce – introverts, women and remote workers.
Here are details of the tactics, which are suggested by Renee Cullinan, the Co-Founder of Stop Meeting Like This. Renee has spent over 20 years as an organisational effectiveness consultant and envisions a world in which meetings are a place where work gets done, decisions get made, and innovations flourish.
Introverts may be quiet on the exterior, but ideas and strategies ruminate on the inside.
They need to ‘think to talk’, as opposed to extroverts, who ‘talk to think’.
As a result, introverts might not get enough time to think about what to say and gather their thoughts during a meeting.
To encourage the expression of these internal mental workings, give introverts time and space to process relevant data and organise their thoughts..
Strategies to assist introverts include:
- Providing a purpose statement, agenda, relevant data and discussion questions to be covered to all participants before the meeting, will encourage an introvert’s best contribution.
- Seeking an introvert’s participation during the meeting with direct, open ended questions will allow for him or her to engage in the discussion.
- Meeting summaries and open-door policies for receiving thoughts and ideas after the discussion, will give freedom to introverts to express additional thoughts that come as a result of processing interactions.
Experience and studies suggest that women are more likely to be interrupted in meetings.
This practice alone leaves valuable ideas unexpressed.
Furthermore, when shared, the input of women receives less weight. In other words, the ideas of women are not always taken seriously.
Rules of simple courtesy curb these practices in meetings.
- Eliminate interruption in general, through meeting guidelines that do not allow for talking over others.
- Create a culture in which men and women are encouraged to “call it out” when they see someone being inadvertently silenced.
- If necessary, pass the “talking rock” to those sharing, or go around the table to hear the input of each team member.
Including a remote worker/team in meeting conversation seems simple in this day of technology.
However, a voice presence does not always garner the same weight in discussions as does physical presence.
People participating in meetings through a conference call, often don’t get as involved as they should/can.
- Video conferencing assists in closing this gap to some extent. Use it whenever possible.
- Check-in on the virtual employees a couple of times during the meeting.
- Think about assigning someone to keep an eye on virtual participants, to keep them engaged and watch for signs that they want to contribute.