We have all been to meetings that are toe curlingly dreadful. The kind of meeting where minutes are taken and hours are wasted, while you wonder what you could be doing instead. A big problem in many meetings is getting everybody to engage, especially the introverts in the room.
Why is engagement important?
Getting everybody to engage in the discussion means more views are considered, more ideas generated and a better solution can be generated. That tends to leave more people feeling as if it was worth their time being in the meeting, team learning, more people thinking they were heard and a better team spirit afterwards.
If you think engagement means longer pointless discussions, more silly ideas and less productivity you could be right! That is to say under those circumstances perhaps a meeting was the wrong thing. If you simply want to get a message out there, save time and money – don’t have a meeting, send an email or a video. At the very least say the purpose of the meeting is simply to all hear the decision that’s been made. If your meeting is struggling with long rambling, wasteful discussions, the meetings need better management.
The real benefit from getting a team together in the room, or in the zoom, is the sharing of ideas and joint learning.
The gift of time
You’ve probably heard you should send the agenda in advance. Unfortunately the agenda and all the material needed to make decisions are rarely sent early enough. The most common excuse it “I didn’t have time”.
Sending the agenda last minute, or not sending at all, means a third of your team are less likely to engage in the meeting.
Introverts tend to use internal processing, that is they need to absorb all the detail before giving you an answer. They “think to talk“. Extroverts tend to use “external processing”, they talk to think. If you get the agenda and any important decision making information out beforehand, the introverts in your team are more likely to engage in the meeting. They will have already processed the information and be ready to talk.
Running Meetings that make things happen
by Jon Baker
As recently cited in the Economist