“What’s the problem with meetings” and “processing internally or externally” reviewed the issues that make meetings ineffective. Here are 5 tips to run better meetings, that are more effective and get more from the introverts in your team. Virtually every team has one or two quieter members, engaging them more in the meeting often creates better results.
Introverts in meetings
Introverts are not normally silent in meetings because they’re shy, it normally relates to two points:
- Introverts tend not to say things “for the sake of it”
- The way different people think. Introverts prefer to process their thoughts in more detail and quietly. Asking them to do otherwise is unlikely to get the most from them.
During the meeting.
Being “the boss” and the person running a meeting are different roles. If you’re running the meeting your role is no longer to tell others what to think and do; you’re responsible for ensuring the meeting runs effectively. Control the time, pacing the meeting to meet the demands of the agenda, notice when conversations diverge from the topic and refocus the discussion.
If you act as a facilitator your role is to get all the views of the team into the open, when you detect a concern introduce it into the discussion. If you don’t want those views, should you be having a meeting?
Most importantly your role is to create an atmosphere where delegates attendees feel comfortable enough to express their opinions and politely disagree with one another. Stop one or two people from dominating the discussion, encourage debate and keep criticism constructive.
Groups make bad decisions for one main reason, the people in the meeting didn’t raise their concerns!
5 tips for better meetings
The whole point of a team meeting is to get the whole team to discuss, learn and decide. As you are very likely to have introverts in your team, consider these 5 points:
- Preparation: Sending details out before the meeting (in time for people to read them) allows introverts (and extroverts) to process the information and be prepared (very important to introverts). Clearly show the meeting’s purpose and why the team should discuss and learn from the issues. The details should include what you want people to think about and discuss, don’t just introduce charts and detailed reports in the meeting.
- Control the pace. Some people like to move very quickly from one issue to another, others need longer to look in detail. Before moving on, ask (especially the introverts) what the discussion has missed and make it clear that the introvert doesn’t have to answer immediately. Change the pace by summarising the discussion (or asking somebody in advance to do so), then checking everybody is ready to move on.
- Stick to the agenda. Jumping from one subject, to another unplanned one will reduce input from introverts (if not others). Sometimes it’s important to leave the agenda but summarise where you were and get agreement to introduce something new.
- Writing not just speaking: Use techniques to avoid simply getting delegates to “shout out”. 3 minutes of writing thoughts, answers or issues (whichever is most relevant) onto “Post It” notes, then all quietly putting them on the wall and grouping them, allows everybody to contribute. Introverts are more likely to then discuss things. Writing techniques like this create more ideas and information than normal discussion.
- Loudest is not best. It’s easy to hear the loudest people, that doesn’t make their contributions the most thought through. Manage the meeting to encourage more people to join in, using writing or thinking time to help here. Simply changing the pace can help (it doesn’t all have to be about meetings being slow!). Asking somebody to contribute can work, but give them time to think and express their thoughts. Introverts are good listeners, you could use them to summarise the discussion so far and then add their thoughts.
The power of a team
The power of a team is harnessed when the whole team contribute and learn from each other, your role as team leader is to get that to happen. Using the strengths of each person in the team means focusing on the team and getting them to work together, not focusing on what you want to happen.