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Tools for Productive Meetings

Wondering how to get more out of your next meeting as a facilitator or participant? Curious about how to encourage collaboration within your team? Interested in leading a new team or project but you’re not sure how to structure your meeting time?

Check out these adaptable tools and strategies to support meeting engagement, organization, and time management.

Volunteers participated in a Q&A following the recorded presentation above. Their questions and the moderator’s responses are provided below (edited for brevity).

What are the top two takeaways from this presentation that you would recommend for a facilitator and a participant?

For a participant: listen to the others in the room. As you learn why they are there, you may discover ways to build relationships by sharing information and networks.

For a facilitator: create intentional space for quieter group members to share/participate. Make use of different modalities — such as the chat for people who prefer to write out their thoughts — and reserve time at various points in the conversation to ask those who have not yet had a chance to share if they would like to.

How do you build trust in a group?

Meet your team members where they are. Hear why they are participating. Create balance between the work you are doing together and the demands of life people must work around — leading and listening with empathy and understanding allows those in the room to move toward trust. Be willing to be vulnerable yourself.

How do you foster engagement among volunteers who can’t attend every week?

Use some kind of notes system so people who miss meetings can catch up. Curate your tasks as much as is reasonable to fit the level of contribution someone can give. Creating and shaping opportunities for those who show up to participate encourages people to keep showing up, even if they can’t give time every week. Again, it’s about meeting people where they are.

How do you get a discussion to move from surface level to deeper work?

Brainstorm, or ask participants to share ideas and/or questions — and then invite others to talk more about the next level of their thinking behind/below their suggestions. What helped shape that idea or question? What is the question underneath the question that is driving the ask?

How do you handle a participant who is giving non-constructive feedback?

Find out what is important to them for you and/or the group to hear or understand. If it’s not the right time for narrowing down ideas (brainstorming) then redirect. If it is time to offer critique, model the kind you want with examples. If someone still needs to be redirected, make time outside the meeting to understand what feels urgent or important about what and how they are communicating. See if that can be more sensitively reworded. Or if the work itself just isn’t meeting the priorities they feel are important, consider if a team more focused on their concern is a good place to bring that information and help them get connected.

Last reviewed on March 22, 2024

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