Business meetings are productive when all the attendees are active contributors to the discussion. Without adequate participation a biased decision may be formed based on the input of only a few participants. As the facilitator of a meeting it is your job to make sure that you get everyone in the meeting to become active contributors. Being a facilitator doesn’t require you to be extremely knowledgeable of the discussion. The following tips will help increase group participation in your next meeting.
- Take a count of who is going to be attending the meeting. This will help you seat the participants in a manner where all the quiet individuals will not be isolated into a corner. It will also help you structure the list of questions, specifically when you are talking about certain agenda points. Lastly knowing the participants background and personalities will help in anticipating barriers which may act as impediments.
- Avoid times such as right before lunch, right after lunch or nearing the end of office hours. These are times when the participants are least attentive and will not be very willing to provide feedback. Choose your time wisely, early morning meetings or an hour after the lunch break are optimal timings for meetings.
- Introductions from all the participants helps break the ice and allows for free flowing conversation. This helps to create a friendlier environment to encourage participation.
- If the meeting has a technical focus do your best to keep the jargon to the minimum. This will allow all the participants to get an idea of what is being discussed and to provide their opinion or feedback.
- Ask open ended questions such as “What are you thoughts on this method?” “How do you think you would implement this process?”. If you do not get appropriate answers to your questions then paraphrase them to make the respondent understand the question correctly.
Everyone at a meeting assumes a certain role. These roles may be habitual or may arise during certain discussion. Examples of roles which may take place during meetings are, the constant nit picker, quiet listeners and yes men. Take a look at your participation in meetings you attended recently. Did you take on any one role in the meetings you attended? If you did, you need to fix this by bringing balance to the image you are portraying.
You have to remember that you were invited to the meeting to give your insights on what is being discussed. You have to take this responsibility seriously and make sure that you voice your opinions in a clear and concise manner. This will give you greater visibility in your organization as well as help you establish a level of authority on a given subject matter.
Do your best to be an active participant at your next meeting!