Author and psychologist William Schutz is most well known for his theory on interpersonal needs; which states that all people (to a greater or lesser degree) need inclusion, control and being valued. To do this in meetings you can:

  • Schedule meetings in – ad hoc meetings can be frustrating; it takes people away from what they are working on and doesn’t allow for preparation time (even if it’s just mentally) for the meeting.
  • Make introductions  – not only if there are new people but the reason for their attendance at the meeting.
  • Ask each person what they hope to get out the meeting and if appropriate find out what participants can “bring to the table” on any given agenda item e.g. who has experience of this/come across this before? What would you recommend or what did you learn?
  • Make it a two-way conversation not a presentation; using peoples names seems obvious but it does increase participation.
  • Share control by assigning various tasks or asking people up front to talk about an area of expertise.
  • Take away SMART actions and personal responsibility to make sure they are followed up.
  • Split up delegates into teams to discuss a particular question or topic, then ask them to share their thoughts with the group. This method is popular in training sessions but workd equally well in meetings; even if it’s a ‘for and against’ discussion.
  • Invite guest speakers to your meeting if appropriate; or just make sure you have considered basic comfort levels  – the environment and refreshments.
  • Change the venue or go off site. Being in the same place is a trigger to being how you usually are in that place.
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