Structure Your Meetings So Everyone has a Voice
A successful leader should have a solid understanding of the different personality traits within their team. These are important to consider when planning meetings large and small. Meetings are designed for conversation and discussion, which we all know can quickly turn into brainstorming sessions or even heated debates. For extroverts, navigating these conversations are a breeze. But since an estimated 50% of the world’s population are introverts, half the global workforce might find it difficult to make themselves heard in their daily meetings. And that means a whole bunch of potentially awesome, game-changing ideas are never brought to the table.
So how can you make sure everyone attending your meeting feels heard? Here are a few things to consider when hosting your next meeting to ensure that you’re getting maximum participation from the timid to the outgoing, and everyone in between.
Write it down
Those who find speaking up a challenge can find other ways to express themselves by mixing in written methods during a meeting. If you’re leading the meeting, leverage post-it notes, mind maps, or whiteboards as tools to replace collaborative conversation. You can give everyone a few minutes of silence to contribute, then read the points or ideas aloud without singling out individuals. This helps those who dread sharing ideas out loud feel more comfortable, and can also help the more boisterous of the bunch stay focused and on track.
Scale it down
When you need to host an action-oriented meeting, minimize the attendee list to only the “essential”. This is a great way to maximizing meeting results. You’ll find those who feel the pressure of speaking in big groups are more comfortable and vocal in smaller groups (the bigger the crowd, the less enthusiasm you’ll get from introverts). Keeping meetings as small as possible can also help eliminate conversations that get off topic by those who are prone to pontificating. Smaller meetings make it much easier to create a supportive and manageable environment that will even the playing field for everyone to contribute.
Make it virtual
Online meetings enable teams to collaborate on documents and notes in real time. This is win for shy team members, because they can avoid the social pressure of being face to face. So if you’re leading a brainstorm session or planning meeting, don’t hold things up for the sake of doing it in person. Instead, guide a discussion through a shared document, and encourage team members to contribute commentary over the phone or with real-time annotation. You’ll likely find that ideas flow more freely and participants feel more confident when contributing from their own desk, home or office.
When work is more inclusive of tactics that work for different people, teams are more effective at unlocking new ideas. Put in the effort to create a workplace where employees are comfortable participating in meetings, no matter their personality, and you’ll see improved productivity across the board.