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Team Productivity

Run Better Meetings with These 4 Facilitation Tricks

Laura LaPrad
July 1, 2019

Keeping people actively engaged in your meetings can be a real struggle some days.


Thankfully, turning lackluster meetings around is totally possible. 

We pulled together a few quick meeting facilitation tips to help your project meetings suck less and deliver more. Give these 4 tricks a try, and nix meeting mehs for good.

1. Use gatekeeping to ensure every voice gets heard

Remember back in kindergarten when everyone got a turn? 

Life may not always be fair in adulthood. But you can ensure all attendees get a chance to weigh in on decisions being made in your meetings.

With this facilitation technique, the gate swings both ways to give every voice equal footing. Here’s how it works. 

Gate opening: Invite quiet voices in

Everyone brings value to a meeting, but some people simply aren’t vocal. This tactic is designed to engage team members who may not speak up but have ideas or opinions that impact decisions. 

If you want to get quiet attendees talking, ask direct questions. Sure, it might mean putting someone on the spot. But you can feel confident knowing everyone had a say in the discussion.

Gate closing: Rein in dominant voices

Everyone who shows up for a meeting should feel like it was worth their time. That’s why it’s important to ensure one loud voice doesn’t take over the whole conversation. 

If that happens, the quickest fix is to interrupt your chatty chum, and ask, Does anyone else have a perspective to add? 

This approach may feel awkward. 😬 But sometimes, it’s the only way to make room for other voices at the table.

2. Bring props to make meetings more interactive

Don’t worry: You don’t have to do a cheesy improv routine to get people’s attention. But having a few simple materials on hand can pull folks away from their screens and get them actively involved in decision-making.

Even the techiest of teams use paper to generate ideas and come to consensus. Bring these basics to any meeting to engage and align your team:

Looking for exercises you can use to get more mileage out of your meetings? We recommend reading Gamestorming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers. This book offers 80 different games that can help you accomplish a variety of meeting goals, whether you’re looking to get creative, solve a problem, or improve collaboration.

3. Set ground rules for brainstorms

Brainstorming gets a bad rap for being a Wild West free-for-all where ideas fly around willy-nilly with no good place to land. 

But brainstorms don’t have to be an ineffective waste of time. It’s all in how you structure it.

We’re big fans of setting ground rules for brainstorming meetings. Use these simple guidelines to keep your brainstorms on point and productive:

  1. There’s no such thing as a bad idea.
  2. Everyone has good ideas.
  3. Our goal is to generate a lot of ideas.
  4. This will take a group effort.
  5. Not all ideas will be winners.
  6. There are no hard feelings.
  7. We will walk away with at least one final idea.

Tip: Ask attendees to jot down their ideas before the meeting. That way you can dive right into sharing, organizing, and prioritizing ideas as a team, with a better chance of ending on time with a winner. 

7 ground rules for brainstorm meetings

4. Check in on action items and decisions 

This technique is an easy way to keep people engaged and build consensus. It’s also especially helpful if you want to be sure you’re capturing accurate meeting notes and takeaways.

The idea is simple: If an action item comes up or the group lands on a decision, stop the conversation to confirm it with the group. That way you know everyone’s paying attention and on board with next steps. 

For example, let’s say the group decides to push a deadline out. Checking in might look like this: 

I just wrote down an action item for Sarah to extend the task in TeamGantt. Let me know if don’t have the details right.

Master the art of effective meetings with this free class

Like what you see here? Check out our upcoming class How to Run Effective Meetings for even more tactical tips to help your team stay in sync without tanking productivity.

You’ll learn what types of meetings every project needs, plus how to:

Can’t make the live class? Register anyway, and we’ll send you a link to the replay afterwards.

Sign up for free today!

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