In your team meetings, you are more likely to reach consensus if everybody is participating in the discussions. The following are some suggestions to help you encourage participation in your team meetings.
Provide preparation guidelines before the team meeting
In your meeting invitation; include some guidelines of what to review and study in preparation of the meeting. Allowing your team members to prepare beforehand will give them confidence to add something to the discussion. You can also include guide questions with the meeting invitation.
Encourage participation from everyone at the start of the meeting
Right from the start of the meeting, you should make it clear to your team members that participation is not just welcome but an integral part of the decision making process. This is often all that is required to get all the team members to participate. The participation of the team members is likely to lead to lively discussions regarding the topic of the meeting.
Acknowledge each team member’s contribution
Show that you have heard and understood a contribution by acknowledging a response in verbal and non-verbal ways. Verbal ways of acknowledging contributions include praising, clarifying or requesting more information. You can praise a contribution by using words such as “I am glad you brought that up” or “That is a good point”. To acknowledge a contribution by clarifying you would use words as “You suggested that” and “Is this correct”. “Tell us more” and “Please go on” are examples of ways you can acknowledge a response by requesting more information. Making eye contact, nodding and leaning forward are all non-verbal ways to acknowledge a contribution by a team member.
Do not discount contributions
Be aware how you respond to a contribution so that it is not interpreted as devaluing the contribution. Never ignore a contribution made by one of your team members. Examples of responses that discount a contribution are “That was already said”, “That is irrelevant”, “Is that it? Is there anything else?”
Ask directly for contributions
An effective way of encouraging participation in team meetings is to ask everyone directly for their opinion on the topic that is being discussed. Some examples of how you can do this are “Can I get everyone’s opinion” or “Lets share all our ideas.”
Build on the contributions
Encourage participation in the team meeting by integrating each member’s contribution with the contributions of the other members or the whole group. Similarities and differences can be highlighted, and you can point out how each point relates to another. This also helps the discussion to move along and helps individual contributions to be seen as part of the whole.
Some ways to build on contributions include:
- Help the team members to see that their concerns are shared with questions such as “Who else has felt this way?”
- Make verbal connections to what individual team members say and feel with statements such as “John thinks there should be another meeting. This seems similar to what Jane was saying a while ago.”
- Involve the whole team in the discussion by using redirecting questions such as “What is your thinking about that?” or “How do you feel about Mike’s idea?”
Intentionally keeping silent in the meeting
You can encourage participation in the meeting by intentionally keeping quiet and waiting for some response from the team members. If the group is eager to participate you will not have to wait long for a lively discussion to start.
Thank your team for their participation
Always affirm your team for their participation. Making a point of thanking each member for their contribution will encourage greater involvement in succeeding meetings.
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