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Orchestrating a more inclusive meeting

Engaging with everyone in the room will release the full potential of the talent in your organisation – here are some simple considerations to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.



As writer and inspirational speaker Verna Myres famously stated: ‘Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance’. Feeling safe in the knowledge that your input is valued works wonders for motivation, collaboration and efficiency. If you host meetings in your organisation, keep reading to explore a few techniques to improve the inclusivity of the meeting-space that you create – and you won’t have to dance (unless you insist).


Accessibility

The accessibility arrangements that you create for meetings that you host is a great way to provide the cultural script for the organisation that you represent. Here are a few things to bear in mind before your next meeting:


  • Has everyone who might benefit from this meeting been invited?

  • Have I sent out a clear agenda in advance, in a way that every invitee can provide contribution, alongside recording it to suit people in a wider variety of contexts?

  • Have I enabled closed captions and if not, could I switch to software where closed captions or transcribing are more readily available?

  • Will my meeting be suitable be accessible for people who don’t speak English as a first language?

  • How will I ensure that certain people won’t dominate the meeting? If it’s online, could I ask anyone not speaking to mute themselves? In person, could I make sure people raise their hand if they want to speak?


Simple adaptations make all the difference. It gives everyone an equal footing and demonstrates an awareness that context is key. While planning your next meeting, run through the questions above and scope out the changes you could make.


Not in my name!

Our names are vessels, capturing culture, history, tradition and social identity – or at the very least, a meaningful choice made by parents. In a world where a quick search online will give you the entire etymology of someone’s name, hearing it mispronounced can feel like an act of war. It might be completely unintentional, but mispronouncing someone’s name sends the message that they’re less important in the environment that you’re facilitating – it could become the reason that someone doesn’t give their valuable input in the meeting.


When it comes to face-to-face meetings, a simple step to take is to ask everyone to introduce themselves, rather than assuming that you know exactly how to pronounce everyone’s name. Giving everyone a chance to speak affirms their place in the room and is a great tool in reducing anxieties around speaking up for the first time. If you’re conducting the meeting online, could you ask invitees to RSVP to your invitation with the phonetic spelling of their name? This attention to detail is a signal to all attendees that you’re trying to create a safe space, where everyone’s experience and background is respected.


Reflect

Building on your experiences and reflecting on the way you orchestrated your last meeting could lead to positive change in your next. Within this process, actively seek the feedback from as diverse a range of people as possible. Sending out a quick form for participants to complete about ways to improve could provide you with actionable, context-specific methods in improving the inclusivity of your next meeting. At the feedback stage, It’s vital that you’re not only seeking thoughts from colleagues who you know will affirm your beliefs. Let everyone be a part of the conversation and embrace growth together.


Orchestrate

Creating a truly inclusive culture is an evolutionary process – it takes time and commitment. But at Interval, we believe that by making a few subtle changes, you can drastically improve the way in which your organisation collaborates, engaging with voices sometimes unheard. You’ve got the golden opportunity to orchestrate an environment where everyone can thrive, so why not start with your next meeting?


If you’d like to learn more about ways to improve the inclusivity of your organisation, we offer a multitude of solutions for your organisation. Please get in touch with us to learn more.

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