There’s nothing more demoralizing than a silent Zoom room. If you want a meeting to be productive, you need to look beyond booking a conference room or virtual space and think instead about group participation.
It can be hard to reach a consensus on decisions and for teammates to build relationships with each other when meeting attendees don’t participate. If your team is full of introverts or your meetings lack enthusiasm, it’s time to make some changes today!
Keep reading for 12 easy strategies you can implement the next time you feel like you’re talking to a wall during a meeting.
- Benefits of encouraging participation in meetings
- 12 effective strategies for encouraging participation in meetings
Benefits of encouraging participation in meetings
Meeting participation is a sign of a strong, collaborative team. The purpose of a meeting is to solve problems, enhance creativity, and encourage teamwork. Participation promotes an atmosphere that fosters friendship and loyalty among teammates. Additionally, active participation in meetings may lead your team to new and innovative solutions, help the group produce higher-quality projects, and even lead to greater employee satisfaction.
Supercharge meeting participation and engagement
Use Fellow’s collaborative meeting agendas, note templates, and real-time feedback tools to ensure that everyone has a voice and contributes to productive meetings. Try Fellow today!
12 effective strategies for encouraging participation in meetings
- Create and share a collaborative agenda
- Have meeting ground rules
- Ask for input and feedback regularly
- Even the playing field for remote and hybrid employees
- Ask for presentations
- Have team activities and games
- Sit in silence
- Assign meeting roles
- Celebrate often
- Allow time for questions
- Show genuine interest
- Show vulnerability
1Create and share a collaborative agenda
One of the best ways to encourage participation during a meeting is by allowing your team to prepare in advance. Meeting agendas will help you and your colleagues seamlessly guide yourselves through the items you need to discuss. Aim to share your collaborative meeting agenda at least 24 hours in advance so everyone has a chance to review it and contribute their thoughts.
With Fellow, you and your team can create meeting agendas that will help the group thrive before, during, and after each meeting. You can also use our tool to collaborate on notes, record action items, and send meeting notes by email or Slack after the meeting ends.
Pro tip: With Fellow’s browser extensions, you can access your meeting notes right inside of Google Meet calls and your Google Calendar to supercharge team meetings and 1-on-1 without leaving the tools that you are already using. This makes it easier than ever to participate in meetings.
2Have meeting ground rules
Before your next meeting, set ground rules so everyone can show up prepared. All meeting participants should arrive at a virtual or in-person meeting with a good idea of what to expect. For example, team leaders can send out reminders in advance of meetings that encourage attendees to show up on time and remind them to avoid interrupting others. You should also remind participants to assume positive intent when others share a new idea. Your colleagues need to feel confident that everyone will show up prepared and that every meeting will run on time. Meeting times shouldn’t be extended unless doing so is necessary for additional productivity.
3Ask for input and feedback regularly
Ask for feedback during and after every meeting. Meetings are the perfect time to ask thought-provoking questions to get participants thinking about which team processes are efficient and which can be improved. If you’re meeting to discuss an important project, ask your team questions like: “What changes need to be made for our team to reach our desired outcome?” and “What are we currently doing well that we should continue doing?” Encourage participants to speak up throughout the meeting and give plenty of prompts so they feel comfortable doing so.
Pro tip: A healthy and strong culture starts with feedback. Fellow enables your team to share real-time feedback on meetings, projects, and performance.
4Even the playing field for remote and hybrid employees
It can be challenging to speak up when you’re the only one on a screen during a large meeting. If you lead hybrid or remote employees, even the playing field by making an active effort to engage them. Invest in top-of-the-line hardware and software so your employees never run into tech challenges during remote meetings. Ensure that in-person participants are in a space with a reliable internet connection as well. Ask that only one person speaks at a time so that all virtual participants can hear the speaker throughout the meeting.
5Ask for presentations
Presentations are a great way to encourage employee participation and engagement. Get others involved by assigning individuals or small groups the task of presenting project updates during each team meeting. If there aren’t project updates, ask that employees prepare a short presentation about a new business concept or something they’ve recently learned at work. Ask that those leading the presentation come prepared with discussion questions for everyone to answer once they’ve finished.
6Have team activities and games
Team-building activities don’t have to be awkward. Implement games and activities to stimulate creativity within your team. Begin a meeting with a thought-provoking question that’s work or non-work related. Alternatively, try a game that has everyone working together in new and challenging ways. The goal should be to develop teamwork competencies like communication and collective reasoning. For example, you can conduct an office scavenger hunt, use Kahoot! for a game of trivia, or start the meeting off with a round or two of Two Truths and a Lie. You can even encourage a bit of friendly competition by giving a small prize to the winners!
7Sit in silence
While you don’t want your meeting to be filled with silence, some of the best ideas will come from silent moments. Learn to become comfortable with quiet moments so that everyone has the necessary time to form meaningful responses when asked to share their thoughts. Silence in an otherwise chatty group may indicate that employees are taking their time to process new information. Strive to be patient during prolonged periods of silence rather than forcing the group to speak.
8Assign meeting roles
Assigning clear meeting roles encourages inclusion, collaboration, and effective time management. Before each meeting, establish each person’s role so everyone can come prepared. The person who calls the meeting should act as the organizer and/or host. Other common meeting roles will include a notetaker, timekeeper, decision maker, the voice of the customer, informed participants, and optional attendees.
A team that works together, celebrates wins together! Celebrate with your team whenever something great happens. Recognition will help employees feel valued and like their work directly contributes to the team and the company’s overall success. Whenever you notice a colleague going above and beyond to be a stellar teammate and employee, give them a shoutout and encourage others to do the same as well!
Go a step further by adding a “wins” section to each meeting agenda so people can think about their wins and prepare to celebrate others in advance of every meeting!
10Allow time for questions
All effective meetings leave room for questions at the end. Provide many opportunities for employees to speak up during each team meeting. Slot in 10 to 15 minutes at the end of the session for colleagues to ask outstanding questions. The questions may elicit updates that weren’t discussed during the meeting time and keep everyone up to speed on moving parts of complex team projects. Q&A (question and answer) periods are also great for checking in. Leaders can use this time to ask what resources, tools, and support employees need to move forward and improve.
11Show genuine interest
Motivate others to participate by showing genuine interest each time someone speaks up. Respond to each team member’s contributions with thoughtful questions that show you’re listening. Set an example by using open body language and non-verbal cues like head nods and smiles when another person is talking. Go beyond active listening by paraphrasing what others have to say when responding to comments and questions. Incentivize participation further by thanking each individual for their ideas at the end of each meeting.
Did you know that vulnerability can make your team stronger? It’s a common misconception that vulnerability at work implies weakness. In reality, vulnerability can engender trust and camaraderie between colleagues. Encourage your team members to be vulnerable by asking that they seek help when they’re struggling with workplace matters, lean on one another for support during challenging times, and share new ideas no matter how idealistic they seem. Being vulnerable during meetings can also look like taking risks, seeking advice, and sharing stories that show you’re more than an employee at your organization.
Picture this: Your team arrives at the Zoom room or office board room for your bi-weekly team meeting. You used to dread these meetings, but things have changed since you implemented new strategies to encourage participation. Now, your colleagues show up prepared and excited to chat about projects and to work through team challenges. Everyone feels included and the team is more productive than ever. Success!
If you’re tired of silence during meetings or feel like you’re pulling teeth for others to participate, put our strategies into action today.