How to Encourage Participation in Your Meetings – Part 2

As mentioned in the earlier article, the best meetings encourage and attain participation from as many people in the meeting as possible. Here are additional ways to encourage participation:

o Do not avoid conflict. Conflict, when managed by the meeting leader, can be very energizing. One recent book on meeting management suggests the reason everyone hates meetings is that they are boring because no one wants to disagree with anyone else! Invite disagreement with rules of courtesy – and be ready to move on with a decision at the right time.

o Add fun elements to your meeting. Samples: have “fidget toys” on the table, serve a snack, give out tee-shirts, end with a physical task (stretching or singing or holding hands), share a famous quote (perhaps relevant to your work situations) and have the group discuss its meaning, ask for a good joke someone’s heard recently, etc.

o Make eye contact with quiet attendees and let them know their participation is valued.

o Give just enough pre-work (before the meeting) to engage participants but not discourage them from attending.

o Look for opportunities to break the larger group into smaller ones. For many people, it is more comfortable for them to talk in a group of three or four than in a larger one.

Ask everyone to take the next three minutes and write down their ideas (or insights or thoughts). Tell them that you will then have them share with the full group. Then go around the room asking each individual to share what he or she wrote. By giving people time to think first while knowing they will then have to share their thoughts, you are giving them some quiet time and space to get ready to participate.

Try these techniques and then try some that you come up with! People will find your meetings comfortable and safe in which to voice opinions.

Source by Peg Kelley

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