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What to do when no one speaks in your Primary Care Network meetings

Updated: Apr 4

"No one ever speaks in our PCN board meeting"

This is a common concern and a frustration people often share with us, and it's something we also experience.

When chairing a meeting, we are ideally striving for enough engagement to enable well-thought-out decisions to be made, but not too much engagement that we run out of time to address all agenda points.

In episode 209 of The Business of Healthcare Podcast, I share some facilitation tips to help keep your meetings on track. Listen here.

For those of you who are experiencing a lack of engagement in your online meetings due to colleagues increasingly turning their cameras off - this blog is for you - and is based on tactics we regularly use to promote engagement.

We also signpost you to 5 further resources, so let’s jump in!

1. Carefully structure the agenda

Whilst it's obvious to create and circulate an agenda before our meetings, are we certain that we are carefully structuring them?

By this, I mean creating your agenda so that you alternate the sections where you are delivering one-way information, with those requiring discussion.

This will help in preventing people from zoning out in meetings where all you are doing is giving out information.

We ideally want an agenda where we:

  • Inform

  • Discuss

  • Decide

2. Get your team involved

To support your preparation, ask other people to contribute to the discussion in the meeting.

In a recent meeting, my colleague Jade updated us on Enhanced Access and recruitment, followed by the Co-CD providing a progress update on the Impact and Investment Fund.

This approach ensures there is a different dynamic within the meeting and not just one voice.

3. Clarify the purpose of the meeting

Again, this is simple and obvious, but do you do this consistently?

  • What topics need to be discussed?

  • What decisions need to be made?

Guide people and let them know what’s expected of them, and ensure you give people enough information and this is circulated in plenty of time.

4. Acknowledge when cameras are off and convey your understanding if people are multitasking

In a recent meeting, I was keen to understand whether or not it was a good use of people’s time. I needed feedback, as it’s hard to gauge people's feelings when cameras are off and without being able to see their expressions.

I said this in an upbeat way and made a little joke, which seemed to be received well.

We don’t want people to feel they are being reprimanded, but equally, we do need to explicitly state what we need and why we need it.

(FYI - This little joke resulted in people turning their cameras on 😉)

5. Make it fun

To ensure everyone gets a say, kindly call on people or encourage them to use the chat or add an emoji. Make it fun (where appropriate)!

In our PCN Plus programme, Dr Hussain Gandhi introduced us to Aha Slides, which is a free online tool that allows you to add polls & quizzes to your live presentations. It's super simple to use and a light-hearted way to test people's understanding anonymously.

6. Tell Stories or use a visual aid

As leaders, we need to be creative and use storytelling to add meaning to the messages we are communicating.

For example, in one PCN, I recounted our progress during the pandemic.

l led with this slide.....

This was the best meeting we ever had. Some people on the call even cried!

Where appropriate, use personal stories to help land your messages.

This meeting was a great bonding moment!

More resources....

As leaders, meetings are a huge part of our role, and here at THC Primary Care, we have created lots of resources to support you in getting the most from your meetings.

Please also take a look at another of our blogs and this podcast episode...⬇️


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About the Author

Tara and Team THC provide project and network management and training to Primary Care Networks. Between our training programmes, facilitation and interim network programmes, we have now supported over 120 PCNs!

Tara has an MBA in Healthcare Leadership and Management, is published in the London Journal of Primary Care, is the author of over 200 blogs, also hosts The Business of Healthcare Podcast.


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