You’re running a meeting and ask a question, but no one says anything. Crickets. Luckily, in a virtual environment, there are many tools you can use to encourage participation. Next time you’re hoping to get people to speak up in a virtual or hybrid meeting, try these approaches:

  • Share your questions ahead of time. If you’re asking people for insight, it’s only fair to give them as much time as possible to think about the problem at hand. Email attendees up to five of the questions you’ll be asking. Place those questions in the meeting agenda and the calendar listing so everyone knows what’s coming and can prepare.
  • Ask simple questions in the chat. The key here is simple. Avoid broad questions like “What did you think?” Instead, ask questions that are easy to respond to quickly. Try “What is one word that best describes the product?” or “What is one thing you learned from last week’s event?” Then follow up. You might say, “Kelly, you described the product as innovative. Can you unmute and share why?”
  • Avoid shaming. Don’t make your team feel uncomfortable or guilty by saying something like, “Nobody has any questions? Really, nobody?” That increases the chances that you’ll hear relatively meaningless contributions from people who just want to end that awkwardness.