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Grease the wheels for great discussions

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

You want to extract great ideas from your team, so you call a meeting and ask for everyone’s input. Just make sure to lead a stimulating discussion where sparks fly.

Even if you’re not an experienced facilitator, you can guide your team to breakthrough ideas. Here’s how:

Reinforce the goal. State your purpose upfront and write it on a flip chart. Examples: “improve collection procedures” or “develop new client-outreach campaigns.” Refer to it often, especially when people veer off track.

Clam up. The hardest part of leading a discussion is keeping quiet. After you ask a question, wait. Make eye contact with individuals for about three seconds each as a silent prod for them to answer. But don’t answer your own questions or rush to cut off participants who give roundabout or unfocused responses. Show patience.

Piggyback on comments. Make seamless transitions. Say, “Your comment leads us to ....”

Stroll around. To involve shy or quiet people, walk over to them as you speak. This forces the group to look in their direction. Then ask a question while looking directly at them. As they answer, keep your eyes on theirs as if you’re having a friendly one-on-one conversation. After about 20 seconds, stroll to the other side of the room so that they must talk loudly and clearly to be heard.

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