Meetings can take up a lot of our time in the workplace, and we all want this to be time well spent. To make the most of them, everyone in the meeting should be contributing with equal weight, and inclusive meetings do just this (if you don’t think this is the case for your meeting, use
this handy decision making tree to determine if a meeting is appropriate in the first place).

Why inclusive?

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace are continuously growing topics, with more and more research proving the benefits. Inclusive decision making has been shown to be linked to better decision making. And when employees feel included at work, they were more innovative and committed to their work. Additionally, feelings of inclusion are linked to employee retention. Ensure you are celebrating the existing diversity within your organization with inclusive meetings.

Where to start?

While a valuable goal, creating an inclusive company culture can seem daunting. Meetings are a great place to start, which allow even those not in management the opportunity to contribute, and have the power to seep into your company culture. If you are leading meetings, these 5 tips can help make your meetings more inclusive in no-time. If you are participating in meetings and one of these ideas resonates with you, suggest it to your facilitator.

  • Don’t forget the agendas
    Sending out a detailed meeting agenda in advance gives more time to reflect and process before the meeting, allowing for more contributions during the meeting. While helpful for all, this is particularly helpful for those that are more introverted, or those who are not native language speakers in the language the meeting is held.
  • Break the ice
    Make sure everyone knows each other, perhaps with a short round of introductions or an icebreaker. This helps people feel more relaxed, which allows people to think more creatively, gives more energy in the meeting.
  • Rotate Meeting Minutes
    It is important to rotating meeting minute taking, so the same people aren’t taking minutes each time. It can be difficult to contribute while writing minutes, but it gives everyone the opportunity to practice actively listening, and ensures colleagues aren’t hiding behind minute taking. Additionally it ensures everyone is treated equally when all levels of positions can share this responsibility and give space to others.
  • Ask questions…and wait or write answers
    When asking a question to the room, ask people to write down their answers on post-its and give everyone an opportunity to stick their answer to the wall and share. Or consider allowing a 15 second pause after asking a question to give people more time to think of an answer, and more time to consider speaking up. It might feel awkward to wait that long but it has been proven to increase quantity and quality of contributions.
  • Address interruptions
    If you are in a meeting, and someone interrupts someone else, interrupt with a saying such as ‘let’s make sure he was finished with his point, before you add something new’.

What now?

Old habits die hard, and if this seems like too much to change in one meeting, why not try just one and see if you can add an additional tip when you feel comfortable? Give it time, and see if more people start contributing in meetings. Let the inclusive collaboration begin!

Interested in learning more? Check out these additional resources: