A guide for effective and collaborative meetings Last updated on May 4, 2019


A guide for effective and collaborative meetings

Here are some guidelines to help people feel included and respected during meetings:

  • Be kind: Treat each other with respect.
  • Remote matters: Listen for and solicit input from remote members so their voice is heard.
    • Ensure the space is set up so everyone can see each others’ faces.
    • Enunciate and speak loud enough so that remote members can hear you clearly.
  • Introduce everyone: Don’t assume everyone has met before. Introductions help break the ice and give an opportunity for voices to be heard.
  • Non-verbal Communication: Remember that your expressions and modes of communication are important.
    • Your facial expression can say a lot, even without words.
    • If you’re comfortable, eye contact can help keep people engaged and show you’re interested in what someone has to say.
    • Distractions aren’t always bad. Be mindful that others can have different ways of engaging in a discussion. For example, for some it can be helpful to doodle to synthesize the information in a meeting.
  • Be respectful of others’ schedules: Try to start and end meetings on time.
  • Step up, step back: After you speak, let others speak. If you are speaking often, make sure others have had a chance to say something.
  • Apply the Shine Theory: Notice if someone is being cut off or ignored. Help shine the light back on that contributor by repeating their idea, giving clear support and credit to its source.
  • Give credit: Acknowledge input from others and highlight contributors. Show encouragement and, if you agree with something, call it out. Ensure that even the quiet voices are heard and supported.
  • Why am I talking?: Make sure that the thing you’re about to say has not already been said. If it has and has been ignored, clarify that you are amplifying an under-recognized idea.
  • One mic: Let one person speak at a time, and let them complete their full thought before responding. Don’t interrupt.
  • Clarify what you hear: Use phrases like “What I heard you say was…” or “My feedback for that is…”
  • Speak as I: Try to speak from the I perspective. Don’t speak for others.
  • Disagree: You don’t have to agree with everybody, but be aware of how you frame your feedback. Criticize the idea, not the person.
  • Everyone can participate: Assuming someone doesn’t want to participate can be exclusionary. Give people the opportunity to decline an invitation.
  • Speak up: Follow up if team members treat others disrespectfully. If you don’t feel comfortable addressing someone directly, speak with your manager or Chief People Officer.


Adapted from thoughtbot’s guides repo on GitHub, which is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.