Meetings tend to get a bad rap, but that’s really only when attendees feel like their time was wasted. When everyone’s time is well spent, I think we can all agree that meetings can be incredibly valuable, especially when brainstorming is involved!
But that’s all dependent on whether or not attendees speak up and participate. Sometimes, people hold back because they’re shy or intimidated (and that’s particularly true if it’s a volunteer-run meeting, where attendees may not know each other very well yet).
To encourage participation and foster more collaboration, take a look at these three tips:
1. Ask direct questions
Sometimes, people don’t speak up in meetings because they don’t know if they’re supposed to or not. If they say something, will they be interrupting the flow? Will they be prolonging the meeting?
Let everyone know participation is ok - and not only that, but encouraged - by asking direct questions.
Does anyone have any ideas?
What are your thoughts on XYZ?
Do you think we should do ABC or XYZ?
Does anyone have anything to add?
Opening the floor like that makes it much easier to chime in. (And if they speak up once, they’re much more likely to do it again.)
2. Give attendees a “heads up” on discussion points
If you don’t already, try to give attendees a little “heads up” on what all will be discussed in the meeting, particularly if you’re wanting to brainstorm ideas. Not everyone can brainstorm on the spot. Some people (myself included) need time to warm up.
Brainstorming aside, questions typically arise after a meeting is over...and that’s often because information just needs to sink in. If possible, try sending an agenda or even just key discussion points before your actual meeting. That’ll allow attendees to wrap their head around concepts and come a bit more prepared.
3. Provide affirmation
If someone speaks up in a meeting, never ever EVER make fun of what they say or put them down in any way. Even if it’s a silly question or a “bad” idea, let them know you appreciate their contribution. There’s a nice way to say no. For example, “I’m not sure that’ll work, but I love the enthusiasm!”
If you embarrass someone (even accidentally), they’ll likely never contribute again. Or if they do, it’ll be a rare occurrence. Let them know it’s a safe space, and questions and ideas are ALWAYS welcome!
If you work in membership management, chances are, your meetings revolve around at least one of the following initiatives: member recruitment, member engagement, new member onboarding, non-dues revenue, and/or membership renewals and retention.
Kick off the discussion with a few tips, tricks, and ideas from our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management below!