Kick start 2022 by ensuring you’re leading by example and all your meetings are inclusive. Enabling people to feel heard and appreciated in meetings is critical – especially right now.
We’ve been working in a hybrid and remote style for a long time, but not everyone has learnt to hold inclusive meetings, so start the new year leading by example with some top tips.
How to prepare for a meeting to make it more inclusive
If you’re not sure how to get started planning an inclusive meeting, the good news is: you probably already prepare for meetings – now it’s a matter of shifting your perspective to be in (every one of) your participants’ shoes.
Be mindful of the time of day and local time zone when setting the meeting
Think about your participants’ family responsibilities.
Make sure the meeting is not being held on major cultural or religious holidays.
Try not to book meetings at the same time as company events.
Send the agenda out ahead of time and if appropriate, pre-reads.
Set expectations for any goals, objectives, and/or decisions that are to be made.
Identify and assign roles and responsibilities as appropriate and try to rotate responsibilities.
Review your list of attendees. Ensure that you’re not missing people who represent diverse or dissenting points of view.
Ensure the physical meeting space is accessible for those who may have mobility, ambulatory, visual, hearing, and/or sensory disabilities.
Ask attendees beforehand if they require any visual or audio accommodations (note: this does not mean to ask for conditions).
What to do during a meeting to make it more inclusive
Now that you’ve planned and prepared, you can focus on being inclusive during the time you’re spending together.
As the meeting is starting, be mindful that pre-meeting chatter should be inclusive about topics that everyone in the room can relate to.
Be respectful of others’ schedules. Start and end meetings on time.
Introduce yourself with your pronouns. Encourage others to do the same.
Set clear ground rules upfront, codifying these will help attendees be aware of their responsibilities, as well as how they should engage and interact with each other.
Be mindful that some people might be in the room and some might be online when it comes to audio, whiteboard, or other forms of collaboration.
If some participants are attending in person, make sure that there are no audio or physical barriers preventing those online from participating.
Greet each meeting participant warmly, by name, so everyone feels welcome.
Formally introduce new participants.
Use inclusive language. Actively encourage others to do the same.
Remain engaged in the conversation from beginning to end and remove distractions such as your cell phone. Encourage others to do the same.
Ensure any accessibility assistance technology is working properly.
What to do after a meeting
What you do after a meeting is just as important to make people feel included as what you do before and during a meeting.
To start, be sure to follow up after your meeting to thank participants for attending and to ask for their feedback.
Also, share the next steps or actions following the meeting. Be sure to remind meeting participants how work will be evenly (and equitably) distributed and how you will ensure follow through on objectives.
Holding inclusive meetings helps every employee feel like they belong at your organisation and that their contributions matter. With these tips, you can run more inclusive, and more productive, meetings in an ever-evolving world of work.
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