Skillset New Zealand Blog

Ideas to help your team develop personally and professionally.


'Oh no, not another meeting! I’ve got too much to do.'

Ever find yourself thinking like that when you have a regular committee or staff meeting to attend?

If you’re leading one, you might be wondering how you could spice it up to lift the energy a bit.

It’s common in most organisations, so no surprise that it's familiar to council elected members and staff too.

So how could you make meetings you run or participate in more engaging and interactive?

Here’s the heart of the problem

Many meetings are led from the front. That sounds okay, but the result can be an information dump rather than a forum to stimulate new ideas.

Try the Inquiry Method instead

In Inquiry Method the leader shifts from information presenter to facilitator. You can pose open questions like, “What have you been thinking about on this topic since our last meeting?” and “How else could we approach this situation?” and "To help us think in a more balanced way, let's hear some contrarian viewpoints on that idea".

It can be surprisingly easy to create a more engaging atmosphere with simple strategies like the Inquiry Method. However, like developing any new habit, it just takes a willingness to try a new approach and a little practice.


For some, that more open style may feel a tad unnerving. You might be concerned that you’ll have less control, or run out of time, or that some members might rule the roost. All normal elephants in the meeting room. By acknowledging them to yourself first, you are better equipped to address such challenges in a more creative way using an inquiry style.

The reality is that your participants, are actually keen to share their ideas – to be heard. The gift of the Inquiry Method is they will feel more respected, and contribute with more enthusiasm. It might take a little time for them to get used to a new approach, but the benefits make it worth being willing to try something new.


Interested in a workshop on more effective meetings for your team?


About Dharan Longley

dharan longley blog

Dharan Longley is a Senior Trainer at Skillset.

Dharan is an international master trainer with post-graduate qualifications in adult education.

His assignments have included training police officers and university managers in the Middle East, as well as teachers and staff of large organisations in New Zealand.

Dharan's topics are 'effective meetings', 'problem-solving and decision-making', 'team development', 'training for trainers' and 'customer service'. He particularly enjoys helping people with diverse points of view agree on practical solutions.

Dharan is based in Wellington. He has a passion for the outdoors. On days off, he’ll be taking photographs of forests or waves, or out kite surfing.

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