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How To Run A Silent Meeting

To run a silent meeting, set a clear agenda in advance, ask participants to read the meeting materials and reflect upon them prior to the meeting, and use the meeting time for generating ideas and taking decisions.

A Silent Meeting is a unique type of meeting that emphasizes reading and writing over verbal communication. In this format, participants are usually provided with a detailed document to read and digest at the beginning of the meeting. The idea is that attendees will absorb the information more effectively and formulate thoughtful responses to discuss later. Silent meetings are often used by companies like Amazon to encourage deep thinking, eliminate distractions, and ensure all participants are on the same page before any discussion begins.

What is the purpose of a Silent Meeting?

Running a silent meeting as a leader aims to create an atmosphere of focused introspection and individual contribution. By minimizing verbal discussions and encouraging written notes or ideas, it allows participants to share their thoughts and insights without interruptions. This facilitates better collaboration, encourages equal participation, and fosters more thoughtful decision-making within the team.

How To Run A Silent Meeting: Step-By-Step


Step 1: Setting the Agenda,

Formulating and conveying the meeting’s objectives is vital. This involves deciding the desired outcomes and pinpointing the essential topics for discussion. Clearly communicate these to attendees in advance, providing them with a comprehensive overview of the meeting’s agenda and their role in achieving the goals.

Our app, ZipDo, imports all meetings from your calendar and creates a collaborative workspace for each appointment. Here, you and your team can compile a shared meeting agenda, where all team members can add their topics. This ensures that meetings are much better prepared by everyone in your team, making your meetings more efficient. It also simplifies the preparation and follow-up of meetings.

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Step 2: Pre-meeting Preparation,

As a proactive initiative, distribute the meeting agenda well ahead of time. This encourages participants to prepare thoroughly, generate and collate necessary ideas, and fully comprehend the topic up for discussion. This proactive approach ensures efficient time management and fosters a more productive meeting environment.

ZipDo, our creation, makes team meeting preparations effortless by providing a centralized location for all information from previous meetings. Meeting leads can easily access this data, including agendas and notes, ensuring a well-prepared and comprehensive meeting agenda.

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Step 3: Silent Reading,

At the onset of the meeting, each participant quietly engages in reviewing the materials, jotting down their thoughts and observations. This silent preparation phase allows for an uninhibited flow of ideas, ensures there are no unnecessary interruptions and importantly, creates a space conducive for introverts to contribute, fostering an inclusive and effective discussion environment.


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Step 4: Constructive Sharing,

Every participant, in an allotted order, will be provided with an opportunity to articulate their thoughts and creative ideas. During this critical stage, a strict no-interruption, no-defending, and no-debating rule will be enforced to facilitate a smooth flow of perspectives. This procedure ensures each voice is heard and valued.

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Step 5: Discussion,

After everyone has voiced their thoughts, a collaborative dialogue begins. This forum allows participants to constructively critique, expand upon, or request further explanation about the presented ideas. This inclusive process ensures that every participant contributes meaningfully to the final judgment, thereby fostering an environment of collective involvement and decision making.

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Step 6: Documenting,

Key points, decisions, and action items are meticulously documented during meetings to ensure an accurate record of the discussions. This not only helps maintain clarity and continuity between meetings but also acts as a reference resource for participants. Additionally, it aids accountability and helps track progress on tasks.

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Step 7: Closing the Meeting,

Concisely outline the main discussions, decisions, and actions required from the meeting. Plan ahead by confirming the subsequent meeting’s date and potential topics, if relevant. Gratefully acknowledge everyone’s contributions to the meeting by expressing your thanks for their presence and active participation.

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Step 8: Follow-up,

After concluding a meeting, it’s crucial to promptly send out the meeting minutes to all participants. This document should contain a detailed summary of discussions, decisions, and actions agreed upon. It serves as a reference and ensures everyone is aligned with the next steps. Furthermore, by following through with these pre-determined actions, progression stays on track and ensures the meeting’s objectives are effectively met, preventing delays or confusion in the project or task at hand.

Questions to ask as the leader of the meeting

1. “What are the key objectives of this meeting?” – This question helps to ensure everyone is clear on the purpose of the meeting and what needs to be accomplished.

2. “What are the potential obstacles we may face in achieving our goals?” – By identifying possible challenges, the team can proactively address them and find solutions.

3. “What are the different viewpoints or perspectives on this matter?” – Encouraging diverse opinions allows for more comprehensive discussions and helps in making well-rounded decisions.

4. “What are the potential risks and rewards associated with our proposed actions?” – Understanding the potential outcomes enables the team to make more informed decisions and weigh the pros and cons effectively.

5. “What alternative options should be considered before finalizing our decisions?” – Fostering a culture of exploration promotes innovative thinking and encourages the team to come up with creative solutions.

6. “Are there any additional resources or support needed to achieve the desired outcomes?” – Identifying resource gaps beforehand helps in planning and ensuring that the necessary support is available for successful implementation.

7. “How can we effectively communicate the decisions made in this meeting to the rest of the organization?” – Discussing clear communication strategies ensures that the outcomes and actions from the meeting are effectively shared with those who need to be informed.

8. “What actions should be assigned to specific individuals or teams, and by when?” – Clearly defining responsibilities and deadlines helps in accountability and ensures that progress is made after the meeting.

9. “Are there any further questions or concerns that have not been addressed?” – Providing an opportunity for participants to raise any unresolved queries or issues ensures that everyone is heard and their concerns are addressed.

10. “What can we learn from this meeting to improve our future discussions and decision-making processes?” – Reflecting on meeting effectiveness allows the team to continuously improve their collaboration and productivity in the future.

When preparing a silent-meeting agenda as a leader, it is crucial to define clear objectives and desired outcomes. Include specific discussion topics and assignments to be completed prior to the meeting. Provide relevant background information and resources. Ensure the agenda is organized and concise, allowing everyone to contribute and make informed decisions in a respectful and efficient manner.

How To Prepare For A Silent Meeting
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In a silent meeting, it is important to discuss topics that require thoughtful consideration and analysis. This may include complex problem-solving, brainstorming ideas, reviewing data or reports, and decision-making. The purpose is to create an atmosphere conducive to deep thinking and reflection, allowing the participants to contribute their ideas and opinions without interruptions or distractions.

See Our Silent Meeting Template
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Software tools to facilitate a Silent Meeting

Software enhances leaders’ ability to conduct silent meetings seamlessly. Through specialized tools, participants can provide real-time feedback and comments without interrupting ongoing discussions. The software captures input from all team members simultaneously, promoting inclusivity. As a result, leaders can efficiently gather valuable insights, ensure equal participation, and make informed decisions, all while maintaining a focused and uninterrupted flow of communication.

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Definitely, silent meetings offer a refreshing shift from our traditional models of group discussions. They provide everyone with an equal opportunity to share their insights and spark creativity and engagement. By eliminating the pressure to think on the spot, they promote clarity of thought, result in more focused contribution, and above all, they respect everybody’s time. Whether conducted in-person or virtually, the simple art of silence, some preparation, and good structure can carry your meetings a long way. Remember, the goal is to listen more, speak less and drive productivity even higher. Armed with the tips provided in this blog, you are well on your way to effectively run a silent meeting and explore the significant benefits it brings to your team collaboration and overall decision-making process.

Jannik Lindner

I'm Jannik and I write on MeetingFever about the experiences from my career as a founder and team lead.

If you have any questions, please contact me via LinkedIn.

Popular Questions

What is a 'Silent Meeting'?

A ‘Silent Meeting’ is a structured type of meeting popularized by organizations like Amazon where instead of directly starting into dialogues, attendees spend a significant portion of the meeting reading a prepared document or ‘pre-reads’ in silence, and subsequently discuss its contents.

What is the purpose of a 'Silent Meeting'?

The purpose of a ‘Silent Meeting’ is to ensure that everyone in the meeting is on the same page with the same amount of information. It aims to enable deep, collective thinking and reduce the potential for miscommunication or misunderstanding.

How do we conduct a 'Silent Meeting' effectively?

An effective ‘Silent Meeting’ begins with all attendees reading a pre-prepared written document in silence. After everyone has finished reading, a discussion ensues where everyone is encouraged to comment, question, or critique the material they just read.

What are the advantages of a 'Silent Meeting'?

Advantages of a ‘Silent Meeting’ include more equitable participation, as everyone gets a chance to digest the information at their own pace before discussing. It also reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings and ensures everyone starts from the same foundation of understanding. Furthermore, these meetings eliminate the inefficiency of oral communication by taking less time and conveying complex information more effectively.

Who should use 'Silent Meetings', and when are they most beneficial?

Silent Meetings’ can be beneficial for any team or organization that frequently deals with complex issues needing thorough understanding before discussion. They can be especially useful for teams with remote members or participants in different time zones, as these meetings do not rely on synchronous verbal communication.

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