Having team meetings are an essential communication tool – as long as the meetings are efficient, productive, and everyone is there to participate!
Getting participation during meetings is not always easy. Not everyone feels confident enough to speak up in front of their peers with their feedback or ideas. As the Leader, it is important to create an environment where your employees feel comfortable enough to share their ideas and provide feedback to the rest of their group. Remember what the teacher always said in school, there is no such thing as a bad question. This is true for meetings. There is no such thing as a bad idea – you never know what discussion could come out of it!
In order for a meeting to be successful you first need to understand what results you want to come out of the meeting – as the Leader, what do you want to accomplish? If you don’t know what end results you want, you are simply wasting your time and your team’s time. Think about going into a grocery store with no list. How do you know what you want? Will you just browse each aisle until you can figure it out? Oh boy, that could take forever!
Once you have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish, the next objective is to figure out how you can get your team to participate.
Don’t just stand there and tell them what to do, get them thinking, get them talking, get them to participate in the meeting. At least this way you know they won’t be falling asleep!
Here are some suggestions on how you can get your team involved and get them to participate!
Make it risk-free
Encourage your team to participate and be positive towards their ideas. Try not to criticize them as this will just make them second guess themselves and next time they have something to say – they might just not say anything at all and you could miss out on the next big idea. Promote out of the box thinking; remember no idea is a bad idea! If anything, it gets a conversation going.
Help people participate
Create a list of questions for your agenda items in case the room is silent. Flat out ask, what do you folks think? And if need be you, can always call on an individual as sometimes it just takes one to get the conversation flowing! Be careful not to select someone who may feel “put on the spot”. Look for someone to make eye contact with you before asking for their input in a situation like this.
Praise and encourage often
Let your team know that their comments and ideas are helpful and to keep them coming. “This is great! Lots of good ideas – keep them coming!” Boost their self-esteem and let them know they are doing a good job.
Keep side conversations to a minimum
Sometimes when you get a conversation going, it can be easy to get off track and side conversations can occur. Make sure to keep everyone focused and reiterate the reason for the meeting and why they are all there. If you let it get out of hand, you lose their focus and control of the meeting.
Learn how to handle uncomfortable silences
Sometimes, out of nowhere, the conversation comes to an abrupt end and you don’t really know how to move on. This would be a good time to recap what was already discussed, refer back to the agenda for what still needs to be discussed. Depending on the length of the meeting, you could even offer a short break, get up and stretch, get the juices back and flowing.
*source: Proceedings of the 34th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences