What is my number one tip to ensure people don’t participate in meetings? It’s simple and any meeting leader can do it and many do. Are you ready? Fail to acknowledge people’s suggestions, ideas or comments. I know, I know, you’re thinking “wow, that’s absolutely amazing. Are you telling me that is all I have to do to ensure I get very little participation in my meetings Mike?” Yes, that’s what I’m telling you.
When somebody has an idea, suggestion, comment or whatever, just stare at them. Make sure you don’t nod your head, or say “hmmm,” “uh-huh” or anything like unto it. Doing so will make people feel like it is okay to participate. For greater emphasis you can interrupt them and move on to something else. The more effective you are with this, the less likely people will be to open their mouth a second time. It really works.
But if a participant in your meeting says something stupid, then you have to say something at that point. Saying things like “okay…” or “that is wrong” will work, but being more direct might be even better by saying things like “that is really stupid” or “are you kidding?” I usually don’t make guarantees on the things I write about, but I am on this one. Don’t just simply read what I am saying, try it, you will become a believer too.
All kidding aside, people who aren’t acknowledged for their ideas, opinions, or suggestions often times feel rejected, alone, stupid and so forth and so on. Leaders of meetings must create an atmosphere of trust. When people are trusting they will be more likely to take risks by speaking their mind, asking questions and providing suggestions. But if they don’t feel like people care about what they are saying meeting participants will quickly disengage. For the most part it is human nature.
What do you think? Do you agree? Do you have any other helpful tips? I would love to hear your comments, I will even acknowledge them.
See some of my other meeting related blog posts:
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