3 Tips for Deeper Conversations in Your Team Meetings

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If you’re a connected leader, chances are you meet with your team weekly or bi-weekly to touch base and talk shop. While the details of the meeting will vary from leader to leader, the goal is usually the same: share ideas, innovate, and strategize.

However, when speaking with our clients, it’s common to hear that hosting meaningful meetings can be tough. Typically the conversations stay surface level.

Below are three tips you can apply to make the conversations within your group meetings more robust and deliberate while still having fun along the way.

Tip #1: Not All Agendas Are Created Equal

While there might be some logistical details that need to be covered in your meetings, they shouldn’t be put to the group in the same way as an idea that needs real creative thought around it. In our Team program, we use an idea prep form that breaks out what the issue is, why it’s significant, the ideal outcome and what help is wanted from the group. No matter what model you use, make sure to ask questions and share information in a way that gets the creative juices flowing so people look at the topic with the most knowledge possible. Speak to the heart of the issue quickly to leave more time for conversation.

Tip #2: What Else?

If you’re running the meeting then your purpose is to facilitate the conversation. This means that you should probe for understanding and provoke the learning of others by asking – what else? On any given topic a good rule of thumb is to ask what else at least three times. Every time you ask, you go deeper.

Tip #3: Leave Room For Everyone

I’m an extrovert and an external processor, so I talk a lot in meetings. Chances are you have people on your team like me. However, we should not be the only ones that get our voices heard. As the leader of this meeting, you should leave space for others who don’t speak up as often to share their opinions by asking them directly for their perspectives. If this is not common in your culture, it’s a good idea to call out that you aren’t picking on these quieter team members, and in fact, you're asking because you really want to hear their perspective and value their opinions.

So, how do you go deeper in your group conversations?

A version of this blog was originally published October 30th, 2013 on the Fierce Leadership Blog.

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