"The Bias No One Talks About: Overcoming Challenges in Meetings and Promoting Inclusive Conversations"

Tara H

Tara H

Oct 04, 20233 min read


"The Bias No One Talks About: Overcoming Challenges in Meetings and Promoting Inclusive Conversations"

In today's professional world, it is crucial to recognize and address biases that may hinder meaningful discussions and inclusive conversations in meetings. While many biases are discussed openly, there is one bias that often goes unnoticed and unspoken - the bias of silence or not speaking up. In this article, we will explore strategies to overcome this bias and promote a more inclusive environment in meetings.

Setting a goal for how much you want to speak up can be a powerful first step. Start with a quota of just one or two times during the meeting. By setting this goal, you are consciously making an effort to contribute to the discussion and share your insights. To ensure that you are prepared and confident in speaking up, it is helpful to prepare a couple of things you want to comment on ahead of time. This way, when the discussion reaches those points, you can jump in confidently, just like others who seem to effortlessly contribute their thoughts "off the cuff."

Another effective strategy is to send out a pre-read before the meeting. By giving people time to prepare, you not only ensure that everyone can actively participate in the discussion but also allow more introverted team members to understand the direction of the meeting ahead of time. Simply providing this additional context will set the stage for a more inclusive conversation where everyone's perspectives are valued.

Additionally, asking people to fill out a survey prior to the meeting can help solicit opinions and insights in a more structured manner. When individuals write down their points of view beforehand, it provides an opportunity to gauge the general sentiment and identify any recurring themes. If you notice that certain responses are not being given enough attention during the meeting, as a leader, you can take steps to ensure that the respondent gets a chance to advocate for their point of view. By raising these points yourself, you not only promote a more inclusive conversation but also demonstrate your commitment to valuing diverse perspectives.

To further enhance equal participation, it is essential to adopt a more systematic approach in meetings. Instead of solely relying on the most vocal and outgoing speakers, try going around the room and giving each person time to speak. This approach ensures that everyone can be heard on equal footing, fostering a more inclusive environment where all voices are valued. One tip for implementing this method is to go in "random" orders, picking different people each time. By moving around the room strategically, you can ensure that everyone hears and respects the speaker, promoting a culture of active listening.

Moreover, it is crucial to actively engage those who have not spoken up during the meeting. By keeping track of who is speaking and who stays quiet, you can identify individuals who may feel less inclined to contribute their thoughts. Actively soliciting opinions from those who have not spoken yet, especially by tying the discussion to something they work on or have mentioned previously, can help them feel more comfortable jumping into the conversation. Utilize the insights gathered from the pre-meeting survey to prompt individuals who may have made valuable points but hesitated to speak up. By actively involving everyone, you create a space where every individual feels heard and valued.

In conclusion, addressing the bias of silence in meetings is essential for creating an inclusive and productive environment. By setting goals, preparing ahead, giving people time to prepare, soliciting opinions through surveys, adopting a systematic approach, and actively engaging those who have not spoken, we can overcome this bias and ensure that all voices are heard. By implementing these strategies, you will contribute to a more inclusive and collaborative workplace culture, where diverse perspectives are valued and meaningful discussions thrive.


  1. "The Bias No One Talks About", https://debliu.substack.com/p/the-bias-no-one-talks-about?utm_source=substack&utm_medium=email (Glasp)
  2. "I learned a system for remembering everything - YouTube", https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rvey9g0VgY0 (Glasp)

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