5 ways to make meetings hearing smart
Love em or hate em, meetings make the corporate world go round….but not everyone can always contribute evenly for various reasons.
For example, if you are like me and suffer from a hearing impairment, they can make contributing really tough. So what can we do to make meetings easy for everyone involved? Rather than just saying these are tips for people with bad hearing, consider these tips to start your 2016 meeting schedule fresh, so all your team members get the best out of them.
1 VIDEO CONFERENCING
If you don’t already use Video Conferencing, seriously the year is 2016, it’s time! With the rise of easy online video conferencing such as Blue Jeans, Skype and Polycom, make your next meeting between your remote colleagues or your clients, a video conference. Why video? If we can see you, it’s more likely we will understand what you are saying. Let’s be honest, can you really understand Barbs from Scotland on a voice call?
When you are part of a video conference where you are in a big room, be willing to zoom in the camera when it’s your turn to speak. Yes you might have a bad hair day, or maybe that pimple just made its way to the surface, but if we can see you clearly, it’s a lot more likely we can understand you from a combination of hearing, lip reading and body movement.
2 SET AN AGENDA (AND STICK TO IT)
I know this tip has been done to death, but what you don’t realise is that having an Agenda makes it easy for those with hearing issues to prepare, and to follow the meeting. If it’s a voice call with no agenda, it’s incredibly easy to get lost in the conversation, so be mindful of this. Having an agenda is also a great way to not only stay on time and subject, but it also allows those coming in late to be across what is being talked about. So the next time you book in a meeting, be prepared to send around an agenda beforehand, and make it clear during the meeting when you are talking about a specific point on the agenda. A simple roll call around the room to make sure everyone is ok to move on is a good start, or if you have visual clues like a projector screen, use this.
3 TAKE NOTES AND SHOW THEM
Think of notes as closed captions for your team. It allows everyone to be across everything that has been discussed, and is a great way to catch up people who missed the meeting. Anyone that writes notes and shows them live during the meeting, via a computer screen or whiteboard for example, is a champion in my eyes! As a person with a hearing impairment, sometimes it’s easier to stay quiet as you are not sure if your idea has already been talked about, but with live notes, it will give everyone a little bit more confidence to contribute. I know no one likes writing notes for a meeting, maybe it’s the anti-secretarialness in a lot of us, but it will make a huge difference to how you run your meeting and will also fast track actions post meeting.
4 SPEAK ONE AT A TIME (HANDS UP)
Put your hand up! This is classroom stuff, but why don’t we use easy visual clues when we want to contribute? Whether your hearing is perfect or not, the best of us struggle when more than one person speaks at a time. It’s doubly important for those of us who have trouble hearing as we need to be ready to potentially lip read the next speaker, so something simple as raising your hand or taking turns going around the room in a discussion can make a big difference (and let’s be honest, there is always one person in the room who can’t shut up, so it’s good to share the discussion around!).
5 BE EXPRESSIVE
This is an easy one, but doesn’t always happen. How many meetings have you been in where someone is speaking while looking at their phone or their computer instead of the group? Or in video conferencing the speaker has decided to go off the screen while talking? Remember that visuals is just as important as sound, so don’t be afraid to show your expressions, smile, sneer, cry, whatever you are feeling, express it, and don’t forget to use hand and body movements to really make your point. No need to go overboard, just be your natural self, every bit helps for those who have trouble hearing to understand what you are saying a bit better.
What are some of your tips for efficient meetings? Share them in the comments below.