Facts & Tools

Making (virtual) meetings more inclusive

Unconscious biases can pose a challenge to inclusivity in (virtual) meetings, impacting the interaction and participation of certain groups. This is why team meetings can be challenging, for instance when working in international research groups. People have different personalities, some are more extroverted and others are more quiet. To make your meetings more inclusive and bring in all of your colleagues' perspectives, we have summarized our learnings in a checklist for you.
  • Agenda – Always send an agenda with your invitation. This way, everyone can sort their thoughts beforehand and come prepared.
  • Moderation – Determine who moderates the meeting. Rotation allows for shared responsibility within your team. The moderator should also ensure that appropriate meeting notes are kept.
  • Time-boxing – How much time do you need for every item on your agenda? How much time can your attendees invest? Plan appropriately. It may help to think from the end: What result do you hope to have reached at the end of each agenda item?
  • Meeting Time – Ensure that part-time staff or staff with children can also be present for important appointments. Morning appointments are particularly suitable for this.

Language – Especially in teams with international researchers, it is helpful to discuss in advance which language meetings will be held in. At German universities, German is still often the first language of choice. If the whole team can’t switch to English, perhaps some points can be discussed in English. Or one person summarizes the important facts in English at the end of each agenda item. If you have new team members: Avoid (supposedly familiar or team-internal) abbreviations or explain them briefly.

  • Face to Face –  Be sure to turn on your camera in virtual meetings. It is much more personal to see everyone and to know that everyone is following the meeting closely.
  • Setting -Pay attention to the technical equipment in virtual and hybrid meetings. Everyone should be able to be seen and heard in order to contribute. At in-person meetings, it’s nice if you can see each other, for example in a circle of chairs.
  • Check-In – A general check-in question allows for a smooth start. This could be a question about the current mood or something humorous. Our tip: use a check-in generator like this or this one if you are looking for inspiration.
  • Opinions Matter – Some people like to share their thoughts openly. Others find this somewhat more difficult. You can use various methods to ensure that all opinions are heard. Use small group discussions (Zoom break-out sessions) or opinion flash. The moderator can also directly address quieter people. Digital tools such as Menti can be used for anonymous surveys and can still be completed a few days after the meeting. This gives everyone time to think. Ideas and opinions can also be recorded on a Miro Board for visual documentation. 

Consider Different Perspectives – When making important decisions, be sure to ask yourself which perspectives you are still missing. Role-playing can help to explore perspectives and put yourself in the shoes of others.