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6 Tips For Hosting Inclusive Meetings

6 Tips For Hosting Inclusive Meetings

To host inclusive meetings, distribute a clear agenda in advance, utilize remote access tools like Zoom, encourage participation through methods like “round robin,” and ensure all meeting spaces and platforms are accessible. Additionally, rotate meeting roles, respect different time zones, record sessions for later review, and provide timely follow-ups with actionable items.

Implementing Rotating Meeting Hosts for Inclusive Meetings

The idea of rotating the host of each meeting among the members of a team can greatly facilitate inclusivity and engagement. If no person needs to always stay at the front of the motion, all team members are likely to benefit from being in the lead sometimes and participating as members at other occasions. Here are several steps to facilitate such a system :

Specify the Role

Before any sort of rotation can take place, it is essential to specify exactly what entails being a host in the context of the given team. For example, it should be made a rule that each host is required to present a meeting’s agenda at least a week before the meeting, using the document to structure the discussion . Knowing that they are required to be hosts will motivate team members to keep themselves informed about the agenda and be prepared to steer the discussion in a productive direction.

Training

Hold a series of training sessions, which can come in the shape of both dedicated training courses and emails or other types of advice. Hosts should be taught tips of running a meeting that does not exceed its duration, as a meeting is a well-run meeting, with Microsoft reports saying that the number of its productive meetings rose by 13% , and employees’ engagement with the process by as much as 8%. Moreover, hosts should be taught to prevent conflicts and keep all guests engaged through carefully selected questions and tasks.

Rotation

Ensure that rotation happens at unfixed but regular intervals, so that no one gets to wait for long to have another meeting. The rotation can occur in order of the alphabet of the team members’ names, their job roles, or at random, as long as it is carried out in a way that everyone can be sure that they will get to host eventually.

Feedback

After each meeting, the opinions of the attendants ought to be solicited on its success and the host’s performance. Google Forms and SurveyMonkey can be used to do so without revealing the attendants’ identities. The feedback received should be read carefully and used in rotating the hosts in the future and helping the hosts to improve.

Celebrating Success

When it becomes clear that someone has run an exceptional meeting, it should be recognized in a way known to the whole team. Congratulations can come in the form of announcements at a team’s meetings or in its internal newsletters. If judged useful, the best hosts can be known to expect to receive some sort of surprising reward from their team at the end of their meeting.

Encourage Collaboration on Agenda for Inclusive Meetings

When all the team members have a contribution to the agenda, it ensures that each of them is interested in the topic discussed and addressed, rather than only ones. It makes meetings more engaging and offers the sense of ownership . Below, are the steps that help develop an inclusive meeting agenda.

Set Up a Collaborative Agenda Platform

This can be done, for instance, using Google Docs or Microsoft Teams, which allow for online coordination. When creating an agenda, set it up for at least a week before the meeting and invite everyone involved. Ask them to add topics or questions they believe should be addressed in the meeting. It will help others understand what is planned and prepare for the talk. For example, research shows that when an agenda is distributed so that everyone can see it and collaborate on it, participation in the meetings grows by about 20%. When opening up the agenda for collaboration, on-net comments and feedback to the other participants in a shared or private channel.

Define Guidelines for Contributions

To ensure that there are no too many topics, you might wish to limit the number of questions that can be added or ask questions to be submitted a day before the meeting. Alternatively, you can request each team member to provide a brief description and an objective for the topic they are adding. It will help you keep the meaning of the question in mind and for other participants to understand what is expected of them during the talk.

Help Make Pre-Meeting Discussions

Give access to other participants so that they can also make their pre-meeting discussions inside this agenda. So precious meeting time can be saved if some decisions are made beforehand.

Review and Finalize

Shortly before the meeting, once all of the contributions to the agenda are already available, you need to make the review. Many questions may prove similar to others or not be that urgent, so that they are better postponed. At this stage, it is also possible to combine people’s suggestions under the same points. Once you have the final agenda, do not forget to make it available for all the participants at least 24 hours beforehand.

Use the Agenda Actively During the Meeting

As you discuss each point, you can refer actively to a position. Also, do not forget to inform the participants of who contributed it. Thus, you can ensure that the question is addressed, and everyone can see the value of their participation.

Practice Active Listening in Inclusive Meetings

Active listening is a skill that can be most useful when making meetings more inclusive and effective for those participating in them. However, the principles of this practice are more expansive and can be generally applied to other areas of communication. This approach consists of four significant elements: concentrated attention, comprehension of speech, a thoughtful response, and an ability to memorize something heard, as mentioned later . Practice of maintaining all of these elements through both the facilitator’s and participants’ input creates an inclusive, respectful and aurally engaging meeting environment.

Focus on respect

  • Always give the respect and attention due to a speaker at the beginning of the first meeting. DuPont notes that facilitators should make it clear to participants that everyone’s opinion or every question is valuable during this initial address. Participants must also understand that they should try to limit their interruptions during someone’s speech as much as possible, since there should be a constructive instruction or important question during these rare occasions . There is also a positive effect, as this will create an encouraging environment where others are paying attention to everything you say as well.

  • Do not forget about non-verbal gestures. Slowly care, nod and move your face to show the participants verbal that you are attentive. These non-verbal cues are perfect for video conferencing, where it is most important to show that there is a relationship in the conversation through a camera lens .

Summarize and ask for clarifications

  • After a detailed analysis from participants is provided, summarize, reword or paraphrase them to indicate that their contribution has not gone unseen and to solidify your correct understanding of a word or sentence. Use these exact words: “You mean we have to devote more resources to this task this quarter, am I right?”.

Encouraging passive participation

  • Appoint a person who did not say during this multilevel conversation to express their feelings, thoughts, and suggestions .

  • We need to ask unclear open-ended questions. It is impossible with a one-word answer to this question – “For what reason and extend your comment on this idea, do you like it?”

Handle the interruptio

  • Do this politely: “I see you have a point that will push our conversation in the right direction, but let Jane finish her thought.” It’s not only polite, it’s respectful of the speaker’s time to finish expressing their thoughts fully.

  • Prepare a written post-meeting report: Analyze the conversation in these terms. Ask someone who was not leading to devote tens of minutes to answering a few questions during the next meeting: “How effectively do you think we participants listened to each other yesterday?”

  • Do a dirty anonymous survey: Open communication session at the end. Participants may, for various reasons, refrain from analyzing conversation dynamics in their peers, but after the same meeting, having collected the same feedback on what they said will certainly highlight the method of improvement.

Recognize Diverse Information Processing in Meetings

When hosting a meeting, it is important to understand that people process information in different ways, and this knowledge can help make a meeting more inclusive. Tailoring the communication in this way makes it possible for each type of processors to understand the information appropriately and participate in the meeting efficiently.

Adapt Communication

First, it is important to understand the main types of information processing between individuals: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Visual processors make meaning with their eyes and concentrate on what can be seen, auditory processors hear and focus on the voice or other sounds, and kinesthetic processors need hands-on experiences. To ensure the information is processed efficiently, use a little of each type of instruction: spoken instructions, visual instructions , and practical or interactive ones . For example, before the meaning, enough time should be dedicated to prepare a proper mix of all types of information.

Provide Materials in Different Formats

To ensure that the meeting’s content is understood by all participants, the materials should be provided in a variety of different forms. It would include written supplements for those who prefer to read, slide aids for visual learners , and clear spoken communication for those who prefer to hear it. For support, provide an agenda before the meeting that contains a text and diagrammatic representation of the content.

Give Time to Process Information

Different processing speeds mean that some people may need more time to understand the information meaning. Pause after introducing a new topic or a complex issue to allow questions and support on that theme. It would positively affect the information for each level and ensure that a person who processes information slowly has the opportunity to participate in the meeting meaningfully.

Group Interactions

Force interactions between the participants, for example, by occasionally dividing the entire group into smaller groups or pairs. A small group can be more convenient for someone to share an idea, especially for people who prefer to read and not listen. It is common for quieter people and/or people who do their own processing inside not to handle large groups very well. Therefore, reconsider the participants in the groups from time to time to engage with all the people equally.

Use Follow-Up Communications

Next, using technologies such as survey forms, make follow-up communication that can solicit additional information at a slower pace, and clarify the material from the meeting. Therefore, at the conclusion of the meeting, send out a summary email or a follow-up e-mail of a survey form.

Safely Share Objections in Inclusive Meetings

Inclusive meetings assume the ability of participants to raise objections and express protests. Creating a comfortable space for that is critical for considering all perspectives and making better decisions together. In this article, I describe several tactics to enable the expression of objections in the workplace.

Norms of Respect and Openness

Create the right conditions from the beginning of the meeting. It should feel acknowledged from the very start of the event. Therefore, in the invitation, state that you address the event for the sake of making the correct and informed decisions. At the very beginning of the meeting, you soon might state that: “before we start – please remember – we will be dividing the cases today, and we are not here to argue but to understand one another . We know that the best decisions are born from the disagreement, and we consider it a gift to work with a diversely thinking team”. Those are the best conditions that you can set for the expression of an objection.

Structured methods

Use structured speaking methods to enable protests in such a way that it does not foster open conflict and nonfriendly atmosphere, and everyone will avoid protests for the meeting’s remainder. I prefer the “I think, I feel, I suggest” method. For objecting to such an arrangement, one would first say: “I think that this is a great event, and so on”. Then one would say: “when we call it this way, I feel understood as meaning this and that by it”. The last one would add: “then perhaps, instead of this word, we can employ words following…”.

Two-Challenge Rule

In aviation as well as in healthcare, there is – yes yes, I read you and no, it is not to be addressed or considered further . Implement this rule where each challenge is to be brought up two times by others or one time by the same person. Combine it with the structured speaking method above. For example, your team meeting engages in developing an event plan. A team member says: “I think that the event will be worth visiting at any rate, though you decided to make it shorter; I still feel that we can keep it. The first part is repeated by another team member who says: “Yes, it is worth visiting, but do we have to make it shorter? Another team member subsequently intervenes: “I will google”, and we have to wait for his doing so.

Share Information After the Meeting

Sharing meeting results with all participants is key to inclusive meeting practices. It closes the gap for those who could not join the conversation or could not fully participate because of time and resource constraints. Information that is shared equally with everyone takes little time to prepare, is always accurate, and is not forgotten. The message should be:

  • Distributed on time – it is advisable to send the minutes no later than 24 hours after the meeting.

  • Clear, concise, and brief. Ideally, everyone who receives a report for this meeting should understand the rough sense and outcome without asking further questions.

Utilize multiple formats

To meet the needs of everyone – from the visually oriented to the audiophiles – the minutes and other relevant documents should be provided in several formats. In addition to the normal text form, the information can be translated into an uncomplicated image if the team has a designer or an infographic maker or recorded as an .mp3 file.

Standardized follow-up protocol

Some actions after a meeting are standard. Develop a clear, standardized protocol that aims to follow up after the event. This includes deadlines by which the tasks are to be initiated and completed, and a responsible contact person. This information provides security and keeps the momentum going.

Feedback

Be sure to gather feedback on your meeting and the process you are using to send out messages. A simple survey can be attached to the minutes and sent to participants to assess their experience. Getting feedback shows that every member’s experience is valuable to you, and by studying critical comments, you improve, become stronger, and more focused.

Archive

Ensure that all relevant information is accessible to everyone and is stored in one place. Wherever your team’s information hub – a shared drive, company intranet, or project management tool such as Asana or Trello documents – they should be in one place. This way, the existence of any additional materials in someone’s inbox is out of the question, and after the meeting is over, all participants can refer to the shared timeline to understand the context.

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