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6 Ways to Increase Employee Participation at Meetings

Exchange Collaboration TablesIncreasing the participation of employees in a company or organizational meeting can sometimes be tough. Although some work cultures may encourage workers to speak their minds, many employees may get the impression that their ideas and responses are not as welcome. In order to maximize employee participation during the next discussion, consider these simple tips.

  1. Send a Meeting Outline Early

If employees are suddenly summoned into a meeting, they are less likely to be prepared to bring their finest ideas, or to reveal their utmost concerns. Sending out an outline describing all of the important points that will be covered during a meeting gives employees the chance to ponder their views, and then consolidate their thoughts to form ideas for sharing.

  1. Consider Table Design and Placement

To drive engagement during a vital meeting, consider the design of each table. Making sure that tables are large enough is important to offer personal space while enhancing communication. Rectangular tables may be more welcoming for larger group discussions. Placing employees far apart from each other and managers often lends a disconnected feeling, but allowing employees and managers to sit at the same table encourages feelings of unity.

  1. Invest in Ergonomic Seating

An uncomfortable seat can make employees want to hurry up and leave the meeting before they have a chance to truly dive into the discussion. Using ergonomic seating makes it far more comfortable for workers to join in and maintain a long-term discussion. Chairs that include soft padding, armrests, and are set at the right height can help employees remain engaged. In addition to increasing the comfort level of each employee, you may find that some workers may even want to stay longer, increasing the chances of more good ideas flowing in during a brainstorming session or vibrant discussion.

  1. Call on People Directly

If employees are hesitant to volunteer to speak or contribute their thoughts, the next best suggestion is to call on workers directly. Taking turns going around the conference table(s) can give workers the impression that they are not being singled out, but are simply invited to contribute their thoughts. By calling on employees who may not volunteer to express themselves, you are more likely to get honest responses. In addition, when other employees see that the feedback of another employee is not only welcome but embraced, they will become more likely to participate and speak up without being called on.

  1. Restrict Smartphone Use during Meetings

Restricting smartphone use during the course of meetings may be necessary to avoid the invasion of technology during your next meeting. Employees that are constantly checking their phones, or scrolling through text messages, or navigating the internet will pay far less attention to topics discussed during the meeting. Ensuring that employees turn their ringers off and avoid using their phones can make meetings far more productive.

  1. Avoid Overcrowding During Meetings

If there are too many people invited to a meeting with limited seating, they are more likely to be standing impatiently around the room, fidgety, and may lose interest in the discussion quickly. For this reason, companies with lots of employees may want to consider addressing workers in smaller groups to encourage stronger participation and fulfillment of meeting objectives. Inviting the necessary people into certain types of meetings can also increase the participation of essential contributors, and limit overcrowding.
The more comfortable that employees are during a meeting while sitting and being encouraged to express themselves, the easier it is to gain widespread participation. At the end of the meeting, you may even want to award an employee who contributes the most valuable ideas to discussion. This simple change may result in tons of participation during regular meetings. In addition, limiting the length of each meeting is also advised for maintaining the attention and full participation of employees from beginning to end.