Meetings are a huge part of today’s work environment. Organizations are complex with many employees, specialized departments and project teams. It is impossible to keep it all on track without meetings. However, many meetings are less effective than they could be if you took a team building training approach.
Many of us plan, attend and facilitate meetings with little thought or planning. As Nike says you Just Do It. Chances are you are missing out on a lot of potential value at each meeting through lack of engagement and participation.
There are many ways to look at this challenge and in this blog, for the purposes of team building training, I will examine the meeting challenge through a personality lens. Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is one of many psychometric tools available today and MBTI happens to be the world’s most popular. One of the dichotomies that is examined through the MBTI is the pairing of Introversion and Extraversion. Using an understanding of these two preferences can help you plan and lead a more effective meeting.
In a meeting you will usually hear from the extraverts even if you do not want to and you may never hear from the introverts. The key is to balance the energy of these two styles.
Extraverts tend to think as they talk whereas introverts process internally before sharing. Extraverts are usually comfortable and confident speaking in front of a group and introverts may be less inclined and less comfortable doing so.
A few strategies to bring out the best in both types…
When having a discussion in your meeting break into small groups and ask people to discuss the topic in this group first. This smaller group provides a more comfortable environment for the introverts and gives them space to think. Have one person take notes and elect a spokesperson for each group (frequently an extrovert). This way the introverts are able to contribute in a safer environment and you are able to gather valuable input from all team members.
You may also want to pose a question for the group and ask them to write out their response first. You can have them share their ideas with another person. This satisfies the extraverts need to talk and the introverts need for time to process their thoughts before speaking to the large group.
When a lively discussion is happening among the group you will want to build in pause points that allow the introverts to join the conversation. Or you may need to put a structured reply process in place that allows everyone a turn to speak. Without this the extraverts will often dominate the conversation and you will not hear from the introverts. I have been told that introverts need a three second pause in the conversation in order for them to feel comfortable jumping in. For many extroverts this three seconds of silence is space to be filled. By building in structured gaps in the conversation you allow the introverts the comfort they need to join the conversation.
There are many things you can do to get more from your meetings and enhance engagement and participation and this is just one. The key is to take a team building training approach and plan the structure of your meeting to get the most from it.