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How to call on people

Is it best to call on hands in the order that they are raised? Maybe not.

In this video Craig explains the downsides of doing that and encourages alternatives.

This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what Craig says in the video

Hi everybody! Hey it’s Craig Freshley here.

There’s a presumption in almost all meetings that the leader should call on people in the order that hands are raised. I’m here to tell you that is not necessarily the best way and that is certainly not the only way.

Here’s another way. Some groups have a rule; everybody gets a chance to speak once before anybody speaks twice. If that’s the case, I might not call on the first hand that I see. If that person has already spoken, I’m going to skip over them and I’m going to always be looking for new hands.

Another way is that I am intentionally looking for diversity of perspectives. This is over simplified but: a man speaks, the next hand I’m looking for is a woman. If three women in a row speak, the next hand that I’m looking for is a man. And even if two or three women put their hands up first, I might call on a man. As the leader I am actively managing the discussion and deliberately calling on people in a way different than whoever puts their hand up first.

Another way is: I might actually really know the people in my group. I know them pretty well. I can guess the kinds of things they’re likely to say and I intentionally call on people to build a thread; to build us toward a conclusion.

If you have an ethic of calling on hands in the order that they are raised no matter what, you are going to hear from the fastest thinkers and the boldest people. You are not necessarily going to hear the best ideas or a huge diversity of opinion.

So it depends on what you want. I’m simply reminding you that it doesn’t have to be just one way. Check that presumption — that we should absolutely call on hands in the order that they’re raised — and give yourself permission to do it differently.

Thanks for listening everybody. I hope this helps your group make good decisions.