Some smart people don’t say much at meetings. They may be shy or timid; and we need them to participate.

There are a number of strategies that help to get people to participate in meetings.

One of the best ways to engage silent members is to ask “What” and “How” questions in their area of expertise, besides there are no wrong answers to what or how questions. You can ask, “What do you think about that? Or “How do you feel about that?” and get the conversation going.

When the facilitation role comes around you can suggest a co-facilitation partner to help take the pressure off and help build confidence.

You can break down meeting discussions in to smaller groups where interpersonal communication would be more comfortable.

You can talk with them one-on-one off-line and away from the meeting and compliment them on their insight and tell them how important their input is for the group. In addition, you cooperatively set a goal to speak at least once at the next meeting.

I have worked with organizations that distribute three small pieces of paper to each participant and request that everyone share at least three ideas or thoughts in writing instead of out loud.

Sometimes people are reluctant to participate during meetings. Maybe they don’t feel safe, and they fear possible ridicule from the other participants, or maybe they are just a little shy. Help them and you help the team. Great ideas can come from anyone in the meeting, help timid members get those ideas out in the open discussion.

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