Members meetings - introductions pass

Topic for Discussion: what’s an ok way or the best way to “pass” the opening introduction question at the members meeting without sounding rude?

I guess it’s hard to explain to people that don’t find it difficult speaking in public or that don’t find it difficult to make up answers on the spot that are expected to be funny witty or insightful in some way but a lot of people struggle with this kind of thing and this pressure to speak in this way at the members meeting may be a barrier to entry to some people.

Could we agree on a way that people can pass on this section of the meeting without it being a big deal? So people can feel they can pass without being judged negatively in some way?

Ild be interested in hearing other people’s opinions on this…

Maybe hold hand up if you wish to introduce yourself?

Yeah, we can just tell people they can simply say hi and introduce themselves. We noticed a couple of people excused themselves from the question at the last meeting, which was absolutely fine

The purpose of the opening ‘go-around’ is so that everyone’s voice is heard in the room early on so they’re more likely to participate later – this is an important part of any meeting – we make up a fun question just to facilitate this, and no other reason…we.should make it clear that this is voluntary, and we can look at alternative ways of achieving this same outcome

Completely open to other suggestions

I don’t understand your example. Could you explain?
How it works now is It goes round in a circle and everyone is expected to speak in turn…

This isn’t meant as a subversion or anything else, and I’m sure a lot of people see it as a fun effortless great way to start a meeting, but there will be other people that don’t come to the meeting full stop because the don’t like being in a room with that many people, there will be people that don’t come already because they don’t like the public speaking side, and there will be people in the middle who “just get on with it”.

With such a high emphasis in the decision making processes on the weight of the meetings vs discourse, I think it’s important that the barrier for entry [ti the meeting] is as low as possible for any one with any kind of social anxiety.

Some people might think I’m taking the xxxx because it’s very easy for them to come to a meeting and roll off a funny quip about a given topic. But for some others the whole experience is like having your nails pulled out. Social speaking for many people is not an enjoyable experience and it would be good for us to be mindful of that.

I’ld like it if we could come up with a non-judgemental way of ‘passing’, that wouldn’t make the person feel put on the spot for doing that…

…if we haven’t already…???

The intro thing is just meant as an ice breaker- no one has to be funny… sounds like it should be more clear that it is optional- if they just introduce themselves instead of trying to answer the random question does that solve it? Or does anyone have a suggestion for an even better ice breaker to get the meeting moving? just trying to identify an inclusive solution…

You could probably load the question upfront to soften this a little, i.e. go around the circle as usual encouraging everyone to at least tell us their name. Suggestions for things to change in the space / future ideas / ‘the question’ gets a “please do answer but passing is ok if nothing is on your mind…” disclaimer

Share the question few days beforehand on discourse and/or on blackboard and/or upstand on clean room table…allows people to prep an answer or decide if they’ll pass…removes on the spot pressure.


I get the impression it’s a similar question each month, could probably stick it on as a recurring agenda item.

…publishing the question beforehand of course assumes people attending the meeting do look at the agenda etc beforehand :slight_smile:

Good ideas! @boldaslove do you think these will ease the stress for folks?

Social anxiety can take shape in many ways.
From a debilitating disability that means people can barely leave their house, can’t maintain jobs or relationships. Or perhaps to levels where they can control these issues enough that they can live fulfilling lives in spite of their issues. Or anywhere in between.

I’ld say again that if we want to reduce barriers for entry to members meetings [when they play such an important part of our democratic and decision making process] then we should make as easy for people as possible to contribute 0 to a meeting if that’s what they want. Without feeling like they have to justify this in any way.

i guess to people who haven’t experienced this themselves it might be a hard concept to get your head around…


i think they’re great ideas. yes maybe they could work. after all anxiety is best dealt with in the end head on.

but people are at all sorts of different stages in their lives and i just think it would be great if people could ‘pass’ without it being a big deal.

but also in a way that wasnt disrespectful to the group. how do you respectfully say i dont want to contribute to this part of the meeting?

Does loading the question making clear a minimum of “Hi I’m Steve” is perfectly fine and anything beyond that is encouraged but optional not fix this (as above)?

1 Like

Not sure I’m qualified to answer this ha ha.

Ild imagine anything we could do would be better than nothing.

Personally, I don’t know why you would need to say your name, but that’s my personal view. I can’t imagine a situation that would mean anyone’s experience was reduced by someone else in the circle just skipping their turn if that’s what they feel like.

To pick out a few things here:

  • yes, the go-around question is an icebreaker, designed to get people to be present in the room (so answering a relevant question they’ve all just been given simultaneously), and for each person’s voice to be heard early on. Both these are intended to get us focused and ease the experience of being in a room with a bunch of people and possibly finding it intimidating to speak up later, so it does inherently put us all on the spot to some extent

  • traditionally the question is made up on the spot – for example last meeting there were some big flies in the Space, hence the Q: “If you were a bluebottle in the Space, what would you like to see?”, publishing the icebreaker beforehand would undermine its spontaneity and some of its value, plus make more of a big deal of what is often the least serious question of the evening (although some interesting points often emerge at this stage)

  • we should definitely make it clear there’s no obligation to answer the go-round question

  • I’m open to suggestions about not giving your name at a meeting – my initial feeling is that this could make other members feel uncomfortable? So it would be good if someone else was able to introduce them and we were able to be open about the situation with the room

  • in general probably a good approach for anyone who has concerns about any aspect of participating in a meeting would be to communicate this with whoever is chairing beforehand and then we’d see what we can do – we want Makerspace to be as inclusive as possible!