3 Facilitation Techniques for Quiet Team Members

If you’re sick of being in another boring meeting where the same two people are talking and everyone else is silent, it’s time for a change! Learn three participation techniques that will draw out even the quietest team members and make collaboration and team work fun again.

Silent Brainstorming

There are a lot of introverted people that don’t like to be put on the spot to speak up, but rather need time to think about their answers. Silent brainstorming is a great way to get more ideas on the table and give your quieter team members a chance to participate in a thoughtful manner.

You can use silent brainstorming anytime that you want to make a team-based decision. Maybe it’s something as simple as trying to decide on a team name. This technique will help from only hearing from the loudest team members.

For a virtual team, it’s helpful to have a digital collaboration tool like Miro or Mural. If that’s not an option, a virtual whiteboard works too. If your team is co-located, sticky notes for a whiteboard are good options.

Always set a time box so people know how long they have and give them reminders on remaining time or share a countdown timer. For naming the team, I’d likely give them 5 minutes of silent brainstorming time and then use those answers to form a discussion. If there are too many answers to discuss, allowing people three votes on their favorite name can help narrow down the topics.

Silent brainstorming can be used for anything from deciding where the team is going to meet for lunch to planning a large project. It’s one of the simplest ways to get better engagement from everyone involved.

Round Robin

To get all of the voices in the room equal talking time, use the round robin method. This is where one person volunteers to begin, has a specific question to answer or opinion to give and then calls on the next person in the room.

This technique helps get away from the facilitator doing all of the talking and balances out the voices. This method ensures that everyone in the room speaks, even if they are quieter team members and don’t normally speak up.

If you find that your Scrum Master voice is over-powering the Daily Scrum, the round robin method can be a great option to give the facilitation back to the team.

Ice Breakers

Sometimes we just spend too much time on getting through business that we forget to think of our team members as real people. Team meetings can really be jazzed up by spending a few minutes with some fun icebreaker questions. Here are a few examples to get you started:

  • “What’s something about you the team would be surprised by?”
  • “What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?”
  • “Where would you like to go on vacation if money was no object?”
  • “What activities did you do in high school?”
  • “What would you do if you won the lottery?”
  • “What would be your dream day off?”

Ice breakers are really great for breaking the ice! Sometimes team members just need a warm-up and before you know it, those shy folks are shocking you with a story of what they did in high school!

We hope these three facilitation techniques will help you get better participation from the entire team (plus, they may just have some fun doing so).