Welcome to Helping Nonprofits Thrive. This weekly newsletter provides practical tools and a bit of theory to strengthen your leadership skills. Building inclusive and engaging practices that permeate every dimension of your nonprofit helps you stride toward the dream of diversity: better thinking, better results, and a better world.

Great! You’ve assembled a diverse workforce. Your board reflects the demographics of the community you serve. The services you offer are the result of listening to the heartbeat of your end-users. Great job! Your journey toward diversity’s dream of better thinking, better results, and a better world is well on its way.

But wait! Do you capitalize on diversity’s strengths by leading inclusively? And especially, when it comes to meetings, the landscape upon which we spend so much of our organizational lives, do you facilitate meetings inclusively? Is every voice heard and every person respected? Or do the same old behaviors crop up where a few dominate and most remain silent?

Facilitating meetings inclusively is essential for drawing out diverse viewpoints and life experience.

Inclusive Meeting Practices that Engage

Here are a few meeting practices that help all engage in meetings:

  • Respectful dialogue is encouraged by affirming inclusive behavioral codes of conduct at the beginning of every meeting.
  • Introverts, less culturally dominate, and less fluent are valued by specifically inviting them to speak.
  • Agendas don’t just list topics. They specify the ways people will engage with one another on each issue under consideration.
  • Passively listening to presentations, PowerPoints, and lectures makes up no more than 10% of the meeting. Instead, engagement is central to the meeting design.
  • Meeting configurations that maximize participation such as meeting in pairs, threesomes, and foursomes are built into the agenda.
  • When someone is interrupted more than once, the facilitator interjects and says, “I’d like to hear them finish.”
  • The meeting facilitator, as well as the participants, make sure airtime is equitably shared.
  • The meeting is evaluated for how well inclusion and engagement were experienced.

Do you use these practices when facilitating meetings? Each one when used consistently over time will nurture a culture of inclusion, respect, and belonging in your organization. You will take giant steps toward diversity’s dream of better thinking, better results, and a better world.

Take the Inclusive Leader Quiz

To fully assess your inclusive leadership skills, I encourage you take the Inclusive Leader Quiz on my website.  The Quiz will give you an honest picture of your strengths leading meetings and identify areas for improvement.

These and other tools and techniques to build inclusion can be found in my book, Thrive: The Facilitator’s Guide to Radically Inclusive Meetings, 2nd ed. 

About Mark Smutny and Civic Reinventions:

I’m a professional facilitator, consultant, workshop leader, author and Founder of Civic Reinventions, Inc. I work primarily with nonprofits in human services, transportation, affordable housing, homelessness services, business and residents’ associations, civic advocacy, and faith-based organizations. I facilitate planning retreats and strategic plans and lead workshops and webinars that teach inclusive meeting practices rooted in the values of empathy, social justice, and the dignity of all.

My book, Thrive: The Facilitator’s Guide to Radically Inclusive Meetings, 2nd ed., provides powerful tools to hear all voices and perspectives for greater productivity and mission success.

If you’re curious about how to build inclusive practices into your nonprofit that strengthen cohesion, focus strategy, and improve mission success, you can book an appointment with me (the first 45 minutes are free).

Or send an email to mark.smutny@civicreinventions.com. Tell me about a challenge you are facing, a pain point, or a story of success. I will answer each inquiry personally.