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Better Meetings(2): Hearing all the views in the room

Our first blog on meetings created a lovely flow of ideas and tactics that can be used by the chair of a meeting to help make it all feel different and generate different outcomes for you and your teams. So I will build on this with a short series of tactics that you could adopt, perhaps not all at once, rather at the most appropriate time. Remember though to be brave, and give change a go. A meeting that happens every week or month can soon become monotonous. Attendees soon work out when they need to be alert and when they can dial off - and may be even reach for their phone - or tap out a few emails on their laptop. These ideas, tactics and techniques can just help pull people into the room and make a meeting valuable.

A quick reminder about Tactic 1. Bring the questions to the beginning of the meeting by asking, 'before we start with the core agenda for this meeting, can I ask you all to think about what questions you need answering from this meeting today? What will be most valuable to you?

Tactic 2: Think- Pair - Share - Feeback: This is a simple tactic I have seen used in large and small meetings to help everyone hear all the views in the room. In a normal meeting of 6-10 people we will always have a spread of personalities, and on any particular day some people will be feeling up and some may be feeling down, so this tactic is a good way to help everyone to hear all the voices in the room. It can also be used with Tactic 1. The technique is simply to ask your attendees to think about a subject, or a question, and I might suggest to allow a minute of two for this to happen, asking them to jot down their thoughts on a notepad, or screen. Then ask them to pair off in the room, and share with each other your thoughts, allowing a few minutes for this to happen. It is tough to just let this happen in a meeting where time is valuable, and we expect that the value of this time will then become apparent in the feedback. (Don't be put off by knowing this works in primary education as well.) Importantly the feedback stage should be done as 'one for the other'. So each person speaks for the other person in their pairing, and in this way we hear the voice of everyone in the room. It also helps because hearing someone else talk about your own thinking allows you to think again. It is always good to check back in with the other person to check that they are happy with what has just been said. The process can be given alot of time, or kept brief and within a few minutes. Perhaps image now combining this with Tactic (1): 'Could I ask you to think for a minute about what questions you would like to get answered from today's meeting, and then pair off with some near you and discuss each others views for two minutes. We will then feedback together, and I will ask you to speak for the other person you have paired with... so you will talk about the questions that they would like to get answered.

We hope this simple idea helps you to open up your meetings. Please do feedback any thoughts, and share any ideas. We have several more to follow. Keep smiling:) Steve

Written by Steve

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