Inclusivity is more important than ever. At the same time, there are also new challenges many organizations are facing when it comes to inclusion because they’re adapting to newly hybrid or remote workspaces. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible! Today, we’re going to share our top eight tips for running more inclusive meetings at your organization.
8 Tips for Running More Inclusive Meetings
So, whether your meetings are remote, in-person, or a combination of the two, here’s how to make sure you include all of your team members.
1. Invite everyone
First things first: inclusive meetings need to include everyone! Everyone who would benefit or is relevant to a meeting, that is. Even if certain team members won’t necessarily need to provide their input, it’s better to invite them to the meeting to begin with. This prevents any “hurt feelings” or making anyone feel left out.
Chances are, in most meetings, some attendees are essential and the presence of others is optional. So, why not create meeting invites for both? You can mark the attendance for certain members as “optional” and for others as “mandatory.” This then leaves it up to the team member to decide if they want to attend the meeting.
Leaving the decision up to them to attend rather than automatically excluding them is your first step for running inclusive meetings. But what’s next?
2. Keep everyone informed
Prior to the meeting, it’s also wise to set up expectations for the meeting and let everyone know what will be covered. Simply by keeping everyone “in the loop” they will feel more included. At the same time, knowing what the meeting will cover helps those “optional” attendees decide if this is a meeting they can’t miss or not.
3. Give adequate notice
Inviting a team member to a meeting just moments before the meeting starts is a surefire way to make them excluded…especially if they find out the meeting was already planned days or weeks in advance.
Instead, send out meeting invites to everyone with as much notice as possible. If you do have to add a team member to the invite at a later time, be sure to include a personalized note explaining why you’re doing so.
4. Create a safe space for inclusive meetings
For attendees to feel empowered and confident to speak up and be heard in meetings, it’s important for you, as a leader, to create a safe space for them to do so. At the start of each meeting, be sure to set some ground rules for the meeting. Let everyone know you value their input, that everyone will be given a chance to speak, and what kind of behavior will and won’t be tolerated.
5. Enable anonymity
There will always be some team members who aren’t as comfortable speaking up as others. But their input is just as important! To create more inclusive meetings, even for the less vocal participants, it’s helpful to give them a chance to share their opinions anonymously. To do this, you can use Swift Polling’s Q&A tool with anonymity enabled. That way, participants can ask or answer questions and share their input without also sharing their identity.
6. Use polls to hear from everyone
Depending on how many people attend your meeting, it can be hard to give everyone a chance to speak up. The problem is, if everyone isn’t called on to participate in some way, they can quickly feel excluded. A surefire way around this is with the use of live polling in your meetings. Every single attendee can participate in your polls, and they can all watch responses come in live.
There are a number of different ways to use polling to create more inclusive meetings. For example, you can kick off your meeting with a polling icebreaker. (Here are some icebreaker techniques to help you get started). You can also ask attendees to weigh in on big decisions, ask how confident they’re feeling about the success of a project, or other relevant questions.
7. Active listening
Giving everyone the chance to speak is one thing. But actually listening to what they say is an entirely different scenario! As the meeting facilitator, it’s your job to pay close attention to what people have to say. And for truly inclusive meetings, this also means calling on everyone to speak up. If you notice one or two team members are far more vocal than others, it’s worth calling out the less vocal participants by name to ask them for their opinion.
8. Follow up after your inclusive meetings
After your meeting, be sure to follow up with attendees or answer any questions that were left unanswered. If some attendees didn’t get the chance to ask or answer questions, this lets them know you still want to hear what they have to say.
Additionally, for anyone who wasn’t able to attend, it’s helpful to share any meeting resources with them or even share a meeting recording with them.