There’s nothing more frustrating than doing all the talking in a meeting, then asking a room full of people for feedback only to be met with blank stares. 

Getting employees and team members to engage in discussions and raise concerns can avoid problems arising further down the line. Here are some top tips for getting your team to speak up in meetings.

Let them know why they’re there

Make sure everybody knows what the meeting is about in advance. Circulate a document outlining what will be discussed, as this will allow team members to prep sufficiently for the discussion and bring their input to proceedings.

Reward contributions

A reward could be a simple ‘thank you’ for someone’s input, or something more substantial (e.g. a financial reward) if a suggestion ends up being implemented. Give credit where credit is due; if an idea is a good one make sure the person responsible gets the appropriate kudos.

Build rapport

If everyone is comfortable with each other, they are far more likely to speak freely within a group. This can be achieved through team building exercises, or even by just taking everyone for lunch or a few after work drinks.

Ask specific questions

If you ask a specific question, you are far more likely to get a concrete answer. So avoid general questions like “So, any questions?” and try something like “Based on your experience in area Y, do you see a problem with issue X?”

Accept different types of feedback

There could be a valid reason a staff member doesn’t want to speak up on a particular issue in front of other colleagues. So depending on the nature of the discussion you should accept written feedback- anonymous or otherwise- or even have an online poll.

Lay ground rules

Let people know that silence equals agreement. If you’ve outlined a strategy proposal and somebody notices an issue with it, it’s important they speak up then and not down the line when things are already in motion. Impress on team members the risks and impact of not speaking up when they have a concern.

Criticise constructively

Remember that encouraging people to speak up could lead to some feedback that you might not like. Be careful with how you address input that you don’t agree with; shooting someone down could discourage further discussion.

Invest in training

If having a team that are willing and able to express and articulate themselves effectively is important to you, then it could be time to invest in public speaking training for your staff. A good course might only last a day or two but could improve your team’s presentation skills and ability to speak up during meetings.

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