We want everyone to be able to contribute in a way they feel comfortable. This means being thoughtful about people who, for example:

  • are disabled
  • who have access requirements
  • are new to a team
  • cannot attend a meeting at a specific time
  • cannot access certain tools or systems
  • need thinking time
  • are introverted
  • are extroverted

We hope these tips will encourage more inclusive discussions, allowing everyone to contribute.

Co-op Digital has created 7 guidelines to help people collaborate effectively and inclusively. Both online and in-person.

You can also download these guidelines in poster format (PDF).

Inclusive meetings guidance in poster format, showing 7 guidelines for better meetings.

Give everyone the opportunity to contribute

  • Ask people if they want to contribute.
  • Allow people to contribute anonymously or in smaller groups.
  • Check if people can access the tools you’re using, explain how to use them and offer an alternative if necessary.
  • Use visible timers and allow thinking time.
  • Use captions and transcripts where possible.
  • Consider how people could contribute outside of the meeting, in their own time.

Set clear expectations, early

  • Send out an agenda in advance.
  • Clearly state the purpose of the meeting and the outcome you want to achieve.
  • Give a running order, including approximate times.

Give context: do not assume any prior knowledge

  • Reiterate any information that someone would need to know to be able to contribute.
  • Give regular recaps. Consider taking notes as you go so you can easily refer back.
  • Be mindful of late joiners and the context they might lack.

Use clear language

  • Do not use acronyms without explaining what they mean.
  • Use plain English.
  • Be mindful of people who are new to Co-op, or a team. If you use jargon, explain what you mean.

Respect people’s time

  • Book only the amount of time you need with people, and allow people to leave if they’ve contributed all they need to.
  • Plan your meeting to allow people breaks between meetings, for example 5 or 15 minutes past the hour.
  • If the meeting is long, schedule in regular breaks.

Value all contributions equally

  • Give everyone a chance to speak, do not allow one voice to dominate.
  • If you’re referencing what’s been inputted, reference contributions from a range of people.
  • Consider your audience. Be prepared to adapt your approach or process to encourage contribution from more people.

Encourage clarity, curiosity, and challenges

  • Explain how people can ask questions.
  • Encourage people to get clarity on things they do not understand.
  • Allow people to ask questions anonymously, for example by adding post-its to a collaboration board.

More resources

Best video conferencing apps and software for accessibility