why silent meetings



~2 min read


278 words

Silent meeting offer several advantages over conventional, spoken meetings:

  • Extra participation options
  • Expanded participation
  • Emergent areas of emphasis

Extra Participation Options

Silent meetings allow everyone to participate simultaneously and in multiple roles. This is in stark contrast to conventional meetings where participation options are dictated by the use of “talking space” or “air time.” Only one person can occupy that role at a time, which means the only option for everyone else is to listen. In silent meetings, you can engage in reading or commenting and flit back and forth.

Expanded Participation

Not only can everyone participate suddenly, but who and how they participate changes as well. Women, minorities, introverts, and others are talked over or have trouble getting their voice heard in traditional meetings.1

Emergent Areas Of Emphasis

It’s often useful to amplify certain comments. In a spoken meeting, however, this requires air time. As noted above, this isn’t something everyone is comfortable doing.

In silent meetings, participants are free to weigh in through comments, cursor voting2, etc.

Moreover, as everyone reads through the document and actively participates - by editing, asking questions in comments, etc. - areas which are relatively untouched can reveal broad consensus (or uncertainty). A facilitator might note this but does not need to spend time on this topic (though silence on a topic does not necessarily mean agreement).


  • 1 Women speak less when outnumbered | Science Daily
  • 2 Some applications, like Google Docs, display cursors of all participants. This enables facilitators to ask participants to direct their cursor to the topic they want to discuss next, where they disagree, etc.

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