My first exposure to a formal “meeting” was over 25 years ago when I first served on the Council of a professional society. I was very much a junior member of the team, still a bit in awe of the Chair and the more senior figures, and found it hard to speak up. Some meetings were good – discussion was respectful, decisions were made taking into account views in the room, and maybe even some fun was had. Others were not so good – two or three people were allowed to dominate the discussion, it felt like decisions had already been made and I questioned why I was in the room at all.

Whoever is in charge of the meeting sets the level of respect, inclusion, tone and formality of the proceedings. So number 9 on the #22WaysToBeConsciouslyInclusiveIn2022” is for those of you leading meetings. (Note, there are loads of places to get tips specifically for hybrid and virtual meetings – my list is more about the basics).

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1. Consider the timing of the meeting – many organisations favour meetings in the centre of the day to facilitate those working flexibly with school or other caring drop offs and pickups. Try to vary the time and day so that e.g. part-time colleagues can attend at least some of the meetings. If this isn’t possible then items 2 and 7 will help mitigate the exclusion.

2. Circulate the agenda & pre-work in advance (more than 24 hours and if the meeting is on a Monday morning do ??? send it at 5 pm on the preceding Friday). Make it clear where you need input and what decisions will need to be made (and how you will make them). This helps people who won’t be there (they can send their views in advance) and people who naturally prefer to reflect before they speak.

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3. Reflect on chat at the start of the meeting – this is not the time to continue semi-private conversations whilst everyone else looks on embarrassed and excluded (somehow worse in virtual meetings).

4. Don’t assume everyone knows each other (unless this is one in the middle of a series of meetings). Go round with brief introductions, or if you all meet frequently, remind people of how you work together in meetings and get agreement from each in turn. You could also check for anything anyone wants to add to the agenda at this point.

5. At key decision points, ensure you go round the room asking for everyone’s perspective individually, but allow people to pass. If online, say “next it’s Jon and after that will be Sarah”, each time giving the next person time to prepare.

6. Check in with everyone at the end of the meeting to make sure no-one has anything to add. ????? ??? ???????:

7. Provide notes of key points promptly, and allow those who couldn’t make it with an opportunity to give additional points and feedback to you direct (not to enter into private discussions but to comment on the decisions made if wanted).

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