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7 tips for more inclusive meetings

Co-op Digital Blog
Remote working means that the way organisations and teams collaborate has changed. With a lot of meetings now online, it can be harder for people to contribute effectively. This can mean some voices do not get heard.

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


Article originally appeared on: Inclusive meetings: encouraging collaboration from all

Contributor: Co-op Digital Blog

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