Most interactive meetings require all team members openly communicate on agenda topics while participating in decision making and problem solving. Active participation in meetings yields better results than those meetings where people passively sit listening and providing very little input. Often meetings will have different levels of participation from the team members. Some will talk a lot while others will talk very little or not at all. For those team members not interacting with the group, there are some ideas a team leader may wish to try in order to encourage that individual and everyone else to become more involved.
- If someone provides a good suggestion or pertinent information to the team leader before the meeting, ask them to do some research and then introduce the idea along with their data at the next meeting.
- Rotate responsibility for easing meetings and taking minutes so everyone understands the roles. Whenever possible, delegate different topics on the agenda to others in various meetings so everyone gets a chance to proportion and shine.
- To get everyone involved, call on different people to proportion their ideas, opinions, and thoughts on topics throughout the meeting.
- If someone is not actively participating, look directly at them and use their name when asking a question to encourage a response and increase their participation level.
- Realize there is no need to rush by the complete meeting. Be patient and give people time to think and respond to ideas presented. After a few minutes of silence, ask a question to prompt discussion or see if the group wants to continue onto a new agenda topic.
- Create a safe respectful ecosystem for open exchange of ideas and opinions. One way to do this is to never allow belittling of a person’s questions or input – everyone can add value including the devil’s advocate.
- Take time in the meeting to praise good work done by employees outside the meeting. During the meeting say thank you for sharing. Appreciation makes members feel valued. Valued people are more willing to speak up and proportion their ideas.
- If someone appears to be dominating the meeting or discussion, don’t let it go too far. When one person takes over the meeting, other ideas are not shared and better decisions become harder to make as people may feel intimidated. Instead, thank the talker for their contribution after a few minutes and then move to the next topic or ask a question of a quieter team member.
- At the end of the meeting, make sure everyone has an action item to do after the meeting. There is almost always a need to assign someone a research item prior to the next meeting and this gives them to opportunity to provide a report or presentation at that meeting.
- Try to understand why an individual is not participating by talking with them outside of meetings. Perhaps they are not really interested in being on the team or they do not see how they add value to the team. Or their low participation could be because they are not interested in a particular meeting topic or they do not see how it directly affects them. Explain why they bring value to the team and what is in it for them.
As a team leader, try some of these ideas to get individual team members to communicate more and actively participate in decision making and problem solving. Increased interaction is necessary in meetings where better results are desired. Leaders should encourage everyone to participate in the meetings and whenever possible try to make the dispensing of participation levels more equal.