Many of us find our diaries filled with meetings. Often, we assume that we have no control over what goes in, and there is little or no time in-between for breaks, reflection, or thinking. And now it’s typically back-to-back zooms sitting in front of a screen.
If we’re lucky enough to be in a room together, we sit around large tables, work through fixed agendas, and listen to formal presentations filled with facts, data, and models.
Whilst all this is going on, we can find our attention diverted to something far more engaging elsewhere, that week off we have coming up… The impact? We don’t do our best thinking. We may not speak. Richness and potential are lost.
When we think about meetings from a different perspective, and focus on the quality of the conversation, we get better outcomes. By being more intentional about how we run them, we can make them more inclusive, engaging, and productive. Wouldn’t it be great if people were no longer messaging on their phones whilst you were speaking? Or, because trust and engagement levels are greater, choosing to share a point of view even if it may turn out to be ‘wrong’.
Next time you have a team meeting, give it some thought beforehand and consider how to make your conversations more inclusive:
- Change the room layout. Think about how people are sitting and whether you want it to feel formal or informal. Taking a table away creates more openness and helps strengthen relationships.
- Make sure everyone has a chance to speak. Notice if there are one or two people who dominate a conversation. Invite the views and thoughts of everyone in the group.
- Ask open questions. A question can help open up thinking and bring more creativity to a conversation.
- Contract at the start. Why not get everyone to agree that they won’t interrupt each other, and that everyone’s views are valid.
- Reflect at the end. Ask everyone what one thing they valued and will take away from the meeting.
Whilst we are not suggesting we should abolish all agenda-driven process meetings, when we are bold enough to do even one of these things, the quality of thinking and conversation will rise.
“Business is a conversation because the defining work of business is conversation – literally. And ‘knowledge workers’ are simply those people whose job consists of having interesting conversations.” David Weinberger
To find out more about having better conversations at work, get in touch.
We’d love to have a chat.