Meeting leader should all strive to create the type of environment where team members feel comfortable engaging.

That can be easier said than done with the mix of personalities present in most gatherings.  There are a few ways you can encourage others to participate without being pushy, however.   

In episode #087 of the Meeting Leadership Podcast, we provide 5 ways you can promote engagement in meetings:

  1. Praise people when they make a great point during a meeting
  2. Allow the appropriate amount of time for each person to speak
  3. Respectfully interrupt anyone who speaks for too long or gets off topic
  4. Don’t play favorites
  5. Be a great role model

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00:00 – Show Opening

Are you a professional who wants to become a more effective leader? Then get ready for daily tips from the coach with the experience and inspiration to help you succeed in any leadership situation. You’re listening to the Meeting Leadership Podcast with Gordon Sheppard.

00:27 – Podcast content starts here!

Welcome to another episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast. My name is Gordon Sheppard, and I just want to say welcome. It’s great to have you here because you understand the difference between meeting leadership and facilitation. Meeting leadership, that’s taking it up a notch. It’s not just running a meeting, it’s being aware of the entire organization’s strategy, it’s making sure that every moment of every meeting is connected to it. And you’re coming to this podcast to build your leadership skills and learn some of the effective strategies that you can use to take into your next meeting to do just that. It is great to have you here.

01:00 – For leaders who appreciate the value of engagement

And if you’re a leader who really appreciates the value of engagement, then you’re going to get a lot out of today’s episode, because it’s called Speak Up: Five Ways To Encourage Participation In Meetings. And the main reason that I put this episode together, well, it’s so you can take action, because each one of these tips is something that you can do in your next meeting.

01:20 – Tip 1 – Praise people when they make a great point during a meeting

And with that in mind, here’s tip number one. Now, if you really want to encourage participation in meetings, one of the first things that you should do is praise people when they make a great point during a meeting. And let me give you a concrete example that you can use as a facilitator to do just this. Let’s say that there’s a woman named Janet in your meeting and she just finished speaking. Now, there’s two parts to this. The first thing that you’re going to do is you’re going to summarize what you just said so you know that she feels heard, and then you’ll move on to the praise part.

So it’ll be like this. “Janet, thank you so much. I heard you say this, this, and this.” And then you would say, “And that was a really great contribution because it ties to this aspect of our strategic plan, this aspect of our key project,” that kind of thing. And as a meeting leader, can you see how powerful this will become? Each person will look forward to speaking because they’ll know that you’re going to summarize, and then sort of give them praise, if it’s due, for the thing that they just said.

02:19 – Tip 2 – Allow the appropriate amount of time for each person to speak

And that leads us into our second point to encourage participation in meetings, and that is to allot the appropriate amount of time for each person to speak. And while this may seem pretty obvious, here’s a couple of things that you can do to actually put it into action. The first thing is you could actually allot the amount of time that person has to speak, on the agenda itself. So let’s say Bob was there, and you gave Bob five minutes to speak on the agenda. Then, at the end of five minutes, after he’s speaking, during the meeting itself, you could actually refer to the agenda itself to say, “Bob, your time is up. There’s your five minutes.”

03:18 – Tip 3 – Respectfully interrupt anyone who speaks for too long or gets off topic

And of course, I can’t say enough about being flexible around this type of approach, because if someone’s really doing something great in a meeting, you can’t just sort of cut them off for no good reason. You have to have a sensitivity around it. So please don’t get stuck on the five-minute thing. Please allow that person to really finish if they need to, and then as a facilitator, you can kind of make up the time with the other people who don’t have sort of points that are as significant, which leads us into our third tip, especially if that sort of time-on-the-agenda thing isn’t working, and that is to be able to respectfully interrupt anybody who tries to talk too long or goes off topic during a meeting.

And of course, this is next level up when it comes to running meetings, and it takes a while to find your own style. But here’s a quick technique that you can actually apply that will help you pull it off in the early days. It’s called “the parking lot.” Now, quite literally, you put the words “parking lot” on the agenda, maybe on the whiteboard, somewhere where people can see it, and then when somebody gets off topic during a meeting, you can stop them gently and say, “Hey, that’s a great idea. It’s not quite appropriate for what we’re talking about right now, so let’s put that idea in the parking lot, and then we’ll come back to it later.” And I can tell you from my own experience that this works. It is a classic facilitation technique. Put it into action in your next meeting. Do it over and over again, and then people will really appreciate it, especially because their time will be better used and people won’t be talking about things that aren’t related to what you’re meeting about.

04:20 – Tip 4 – Don’t play favorites

And now let’s move on to tip number four that will help you to help more people to speak up during your meetings. Don’t play favorites. This is a disaster when it comes to leading meetings. Now, it might feel good for you, right? You’re leading the meeting, there’s someone that you like in the meeting, you get along with them, you give them more air time, it slows everybody else down. And I can tell you, your projects will slow down, your profitability will slow down when you do this. So as a meeting leader, be balanced, don’t play favorites, and make sure that everybody gets kind of that equal air time so they feel the fairness of it, if you want to actually move forward in the right way.

04:58 – Tip 5 – Be a great role model

And now we come to our final tip, which is to be a great role model. Now, how can you do this? Well, you can be the most prepared, the most passionate, and the most respectful. When I say prepared, that means when it’s your turn to speak during the meeting, you say the right amount, and then you add in the passion. You allow yourself to be authentic. And you really want to be able to then connect that passion to your strategic plan and know that you’re carrying your vision statement forward as often as possible.

Gordon Sheppard:    And finally, when it comes to being the most respectful person in the room, here’s a couple suggestions. One, take away sarcasm, because that’s the kind of thing that gets people’s backs up. Two, be aware of your language. Make sure you don’t use foul words or any type of language where people are going to be disengaged, because they’ll be focusing on the words that you say, and really kind of miss the point. And finally, I think if you’re going to do this, you want to be the most interested person in the room. That means being inquisitive, being curious, and making sure that you’re thinking the best that you can about everybody in your meeting.

06:02 – Episode recap

And now let me take a moment to recap the five ways to encourage participation in meetings. Number one, praise people after they’ve made a really solid point. Number two, give people the appropriate amount of time to speak. Number three, learn how to respectfully interrupt people, and use the parking lot for any extra ideas that need to be covered later on. Number four, don’t play favorites. And number five, be a great role model. And I really hope that after listening to this, you’ve picked up one tip, two tips, that you can apply to your next meeting, to go in and make it much more productive and much more profitable.

06:43 – Related episodes – MLP 03 – MLP 089

And if you want to go even deeper as a meeting leader to practice some of these things, I recommend checking out a few other episodes on the Meeting Leadership Podcast. In episode number three, well, it’s called How To Make A Great Point During A Meeting. Now, that’s the first part of a three-part series, and it includes a free download as well. And you can get that episode by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/3. And if you really want to take your meeting leadership game up to the next level, then check out episode 89 on the podcast. It’s called Why Sarcasm Is Hurting Your Team And What Leaders Can Do About It. And that’s with a great guest, his name is Lyle Benson, he’s a prof at MacEwan University, and he really knocks it out of the park in the interview on that show. And you can get that one by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/89.

07:33 – Meeting Leadership Academy – https://meetingleadershipinc.com/academy

And I also want to let you know that this episode of the Meeting Leadership Podcast is brought to you by the Meeting Leadership Academy. Now, there you’re going to find some great online training options. And in terms of live training, one of the new things that’s been introduced is one-on-one coaching. So if you want to work directly with me, fill out the application, I’ll get right back to you, and we’ll see if it’s a good fit to help you, as a meeting leader, go further, faster. And you can get more information about that by going to meetingleadershipinc.com/academy.

And if you haven’t done it yet, please take a moment to hit the subscribe button, and then leave a rating and review, and it will influence future episodes on the podcast. And as always, thank you so much for listening, and we’ll see you tomorrow on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

08:19 – Podcast Outro

Be sure to subscribe for more strategies to help you become an outstanding leader. And don’t forget to rate and review so we can bring you fresh content every day. We’ll see you tomorrow, right here on the Meeting Leadership Podcast.

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Connect With Gordon Sheppard

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Gordon Sheppard

Gord is on a mission to change the world, one meeting at a time. Over his 25+ years in business Gord has run or participated in more than 2000 meetings! Not only is Gord the CEO of Business Expert Solutions Inc. (owner/operator of Meeting Leadership Inc), but he is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Business Consultant, Author, Speaker and Podcaster who helps leaders learn how to have great meetings, so they can build outstanding organizations and serve their clients at the highest possible level.

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