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Diversity and Inclusion

Elevate all voices from the start in meetings

📢 Get everyone talking at the get-go

It’s important to give everyone in the meeting a voice from the start, even if that’s a simple round of intros.

This will make sure no one feels alienated — a common experience for introverts, members of ‘outgroups’, and more junior teammates.

And according to Susan Cain, author of the book Quiet, if you don’t engage these people early on, their ideas are less likely to get airtime. The conversation is more likely to go in the direction set by the first people to speak up.

Icon Doodle GIF by Daniel Spacek

Icon Doodle by @DanielSpacek.

💡 Ask the most junior person (or people) their thoughts first. This is a tip we heard from John Cleese, of all people, and it’s a way to empower less-experienced people in the business to be candid, particularly when that means being contrary.

💡 Start with an opening round: introductions, an icebreaker or a simple around-the-room share like “What’s going well this week?” or “What are you most excited out about right now?”

💡 Be aware of who hasn’t spoken up in the first 5 mins of discussion after your opening round.

Interject to ask for their thoughts before you commit to the first few ideas that were floated.

For example, “Priya, I’d love your idea on this…”

💡 Ask everyone to judge your idea. “Can I propose something and get feedback from each of you?”

💡 Start the session with ‘Brainwriting’ to level the playing field and air everyone’s thoughts. This concept involves every attendee independently (and anonymously) writing down their ideas and posting to a board for all to consider and discuss.

Include your remote audiences

Remote workers say one of the biggest struggles of working remotely is collaboration and communication.

Unfortunately, we’re prone to focusing on the people in front of us which means remote workers can be overlooked when the majority of attendees are in the same room.

Simple ways to include your remote colleagues in a meeting

⏰ Consider schedules and time zones when booking a meeting.

🔗 Include a Google Hangouts, Zoom, or other video conferencing link in every meeting invitation.

👩‍💻 Use video if possible. When meetings are solely based on audio, you can lose contextual information like body language and eye contact.

🗣️ Start by asking everyone what they’d like to get out of the meeting or the top thing they’d like to cover on the call.

📝 Co-create an agenda in advance of the meeting where each person is allocated time to speak on a certain point.

⌨️ Welcome attendees to use the video conference’s chat function. Keep the chat open and draw everyone’s attention to questions and comments to contributions as they come in.

🗝️ Your key takeaway

You can elevate all voices from the start of a large meeting through a few tactics: you could try “brainwriting,” an opening round to solicit ideas around the room, or asking individuals to share their thoughts. Don’t forget to include remote workers who might get less airtime than those who share a physical space.

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