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

"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.

As the Chair of a meeting, we are ideally striving for enough engagement that well-thought-out decisions are made but not too much engagement that we run out of time to address all points on the agenda.

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

This is one blog which signposts 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 carefully structuring them?

By this, I mean creating your agenda to alternate the sections where you are providing one-way information to the network and where you want a discussion.

This prevents you from having a meeting where all you are doing is giving information and people zoning out.

We ideally want an agenda where we:

  • Inform

  • Discuss

  • Inform

  • Discuss

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 gave the update on Enhanced Access and recruitment, and the Co-CD provided a progress update on the Impact and Investment Fund. This added different dynamics to the meeting and discussion.

3. Clarify the purpose of the meeting

Again this is a simple and obvious one, 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.

4. Acknowledge when cameras are off and that you understand if people are multitasking

In a recent meeting, I explained that in order to know if this is a good use of people’s time, I needed some feedback, as it’s hard to gauge this without seeing people's 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 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 an emoji. Make it fun (where appropriate!)

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

6. Tell Stories or use a visual aid

As a leader, we need to be creative and use storytelling to help give our messages meaning.

I will never forget 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 the message land.

This meeting was a great bonding moment!

More Resources

Meetings are a huge part of our role, and here at THC Primary Care , we created lots of resources to support you to get the most from your meetings.

Also, please take a look at our below blog and Podcast Episode.


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 50 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.

Find out more about THC Primary Care at and sign up to our newsletter here.



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