Let’s try silent meetings!
Updated: Oct 18, 2019
Tired of lousy meetings, often capitalized by those with louder voices or those with more confidence in themselves? What if I tell you that there’s a tool to save time and give every participant a voice? I’m talking about silent meetings.
What’s a silent meeting?
A 5 or 6-page memo is previously prepared to be read silently in group
during the meeting. Then, everyone writes down comments. One of the problems with meetings is that, often, not everyone has the same information to discuss. This technique places everyone on the same page so that everyone is focused on the relevant information. Note that writing a memo may seem like a considerable initial effort, but writing it like a story makes it more engaging and easier to assimilate than showing a PowerPoint. After everyone’s finished the reading, the talking –if needed- begins. The subsequent discussion is more informed and on point, since everyone has had time to think.
Two-pizza teams. No PowerPoint. Start with silence.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was the first to introduce this concept, and in fact, he takes it a bit beyond with these three parameters: Teams should be no larger than can be fed by two pizzas. No PowerPoint. Start with silence. And he states: “I've used this method in my own meetings, and I can vouch for its effectiveness.”
It will save you time and give everyone a voice
The silent start makes everyone become involved in the meeting; attendees can't help but focus on the issue. During the reading, everyone can note down interesting comments at certain points of the memo. This means that all the information is valuable and concentrated in the least time possible. Moreover, it gives everyone equal opportunities to express, regardless of their being a minority, women, introverts or voiceless because of a cold. But the most important thing of all: everybody’s best ideas are collected during the meeting by a moderator (by voice or directly in the document comments), so it becomes a source of great ideas.
Ready to try it?
Prepare a memo about the issue(s) to be addressed in the next meeting. Read the memo silently together at the beginning of the meeting. Then, put together in writing or talking all the comments and good ideas. A moderator can help this happening!