Enable participation from everyone in your team.
Hilary Dubin, Product Manager at Atlassian
In order to create more balanced and inclusive meetings, you can't just expect it to happen, you have to facilitate it.
Even with the best intentions, creating a space for everyone to contribute is hard. But once you learn this secret skill just think how many ideas and insights are waiting to be unlocked!
Here's 4 tactics for creating a more inclusive meeting culture!
Challenge: Often, underrepresented groups are excluded from being given a seat at the table — like when a female engineer isn’t invited to discuss the roadmap, and the male engineers “figure it out” themselves.
Solution: Before kicking off your meeting, do a mental role call. Ask yourself: is everyone here who needs to be? Taking all perspectives into account will make sure your team is exposed to the best ideas from the get-go.
Challenge: Introverts typically have a harder time processing information and vocalizing their opinions on the fly. Going into the meeting "blind" can cause only dominant voices to be heard.
Solution: Give your team information upfront, so they can come prepared. If the meeting is spontaneous, let things sink in by giving three minutes for quiet reflection and to jot down thoughts before diving in.
Challenge: Letting people interrupt excludes some team members more than others. Studies have proven that women, for instance, are interrupted more often than men. This makes it difficult to hear their voices and therefore their ideas.
Solution: Set a "no interruptions" rule and make sure it's respected by assigning a moderator. If you have a “serial interrupter” on your team, ask them to take notes. That way they have to be more focused on listening than jumping in.
Challenge: Take a moment to think about your team in meetings. Is there someone who contributes more than anyone else? It’s easy for meetings to be framed by the loudest voices.
Solution: Go one-by-one around the room and ask each person to share their input. Sometimes, it’s best to set a time limit for each person’s thoughts to help keep the conversation moving. You never know which person in the room will have the best insight if you don’t open space for them to share it.
As you introduce these practices to your meetings, you may find that some previously muffled voices become so essential it’s hard to believe you ever functioned as a team without them!
When you grow your team, pay attention to new members that need more support to speak up. You might need to reiterate certain practices to make sure they're not feeling left out.