Giving Everyone a Voice

We have all been there in meetings where one person dominates the conversations. Now it is fit and proper that someone should chair a meeting and ask the difficult questions. Indeed it’s important to have debates in meetings otherwise perhaps we are not trying hard enough. There are however sometimes more junior members of staff or staff who prefer to just listen when they have a part to play.

You see the problem is how do you break the habit of a lifetime. We are all programmed differently and some people like myself like to talk. In fact I would say I talk as I think. This can often mean other people don’t get a word in. There is a saying that too many cooks spoil the broth but in a democratic society listening to everyone’s voice counts. This diversity and inclusion leads to new thinking, better ideas and ensures that all angles are covered.

How do you break this habit and tame the charismatic leaders who perhaps need to talk less and listen more? One thing you can do is change the environment and this is where technology comes in. Online meetings scheduled in diaries with links to live video are common place in the business world. Some online meeting software allows controls on who can speak and who can just listen. What they don’t control is the duration that everyone speaks. Online meeting software also doesn’t deal with interruptions when people are cut off mid sentence.

What I want to talk about is a different approach to conducting a meeting. This is a halfway house between the prevalent email chains and the face to face meetings which sometimes overrun, never start on time and often lack meeting minutes. The idea is just in time meetings using voice messaging.

Voicemail use to be popular back in the day and I can foresee a resurgence of the use of voicemail. The distinct advantages are that you get a person’s emotions transmitted and you don’t have to schedule a meeting.

Now the important board meetings and certain types of conversations have to and must always be held face to face. There is however a longtail of meetings where the first question “Do we really need a meeting?” needs to be addressed. In these instances where a meeting is not necessary yet, real discussions and opinions need to be gathered. Voice messaging can win the day.

Starting with the exit in mind we want productive, high quality conversations that make a difference. Voice messaging allows everyone to be listened to and to have their voice heard.