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5 ways to adapt your meetings for different communicators

February 16, 2022
Written by Michelle Kuly

In a meeting, are you more likely to put up your hand, float an idea, and proceed to talk it out in front of the group? Or do you need a minute to sit back, process, and analyze a discussion point before you’re comfortable saying something.

If you’re a person who likes to talk-to-think, you might like to sound out ideas and say what’s on your mind. These learners are often great additions, as the more active participants who can easily get others to engage. You also might be the person who grows impatient if someone’s taking their time to answer or catch yourself interrupting and filling any silences in the room.

If you’re a more introverted person who prefers to think-to-talk, you might need more time reflecting on your answer before sharing. You might have to balance taking enough time to reflect on your response before losing your chance to speak.

When designing meetings and workshops, thinking about these different communication styles ensures everyone can share their wisdom and ask questions, regardless if you’re more extroverted or need a little time to work through your response.

Here are 5 ways to adapt your meetings for different communicators

1) At the start of your meeting, ask folks to self-identify. Say something like, “who here talks to think and who thinks to talk?” This will help the group manage their participation and give the person running the meeting a sense of who might need what kind of prompts to contribute productively.

2) Use silent reflection to allow meeting participants to pause, breath, and process topic discussions.

3) Use tools like 1-2-4-All to build comfort zones that progressively let people reflect and share in small groups before collaborating in a larger group.

4) Use round robins to provide an opportunity to hear from everyone and let people know the order you will be going in advance, so they know when they’re up next.

5) It’s also important to consider cultural norms, which will inform group interaction and meeting dynamics. 

Extra resources

Do You Talk to Think or Think to Talk?
Five Methods of Facilitation I use for Collaborative Meetings
Liberating Structures: Including and Unleashing Everyone


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