Neurodiverse Employees with top neurodiversity speaker Susan Fitzell, M.Ed., CSP

So often, managers call a meeting, share information, then end the session expecting employees to understand, assimilate, and implement the new information into their work endeavors. When this does not happen, a manager may feel frustrated with employees that just can’t do what they told them to do. Or a more self-reflective manager may wonder what is wrong with their presentation style. Add the fact that more managers are managing neurodiverse employees, and the challenge increases exponentially.

Here are a dozen ways to lead more effective presentations and meetings when managing neurodiverse employees.

  1. Avoid dispensing important information to your employees ‘lecture style.” That ‘lecture voice’ puts people to sleep.
  2. Include material that is not in the manual or handbook. Effective meeting presentations present material that can’t be read from a book or slide deck. Use your resources as jumping-off points, not a script.
  3. Mix it up. Keep your style dynamic, not static. Make good eye contact. Establish a relationship with the audience and vary how you engage with meeting attendees.
  4. Use group discussion as a reinforcement technique during the meeting. Pause for a few minutes at the end of the session and ask participants to discuss what they’ve learned among themselves. This discussion strategy will give employees time to catch up and consolidate their notes. It also gives you time to assess your delivery’s efficacy, ask questions and listen to employee feedback.
  5. Show enthusiasm for the subject. If you don’t seem to care about the material, your employees won’t care either. If the boss isn’t invested in the message, why should they be?
  6. Provide quality, not quantity. Don’t overwhelm your team with new information. Studies show that the more introductory material in a lecture, the less information participants retain. Assign readings, use online discussion boards, and direct employees to read articles online.
  7. Generate curiosity about the material being shared early in the meeting. Introduce new ideas and push your team to develop their perspectives where appropriate.
  8. Keep your meeting delivery organized, and don’t veer off course. Start with a brief schedule of what you want to talk about, then use “signposts” to keep your presentation on track (For example: “Now I want to talk about…,” “That’s the end of our discussion of…”).
  9. Check in with participants — not just at the end of the meeting but throughout the session. Summarize important concepts periodically. Encourage active discussion but avoid tangents that derail your message.
  10. Use the “Rule of Three.” The brain tends to remember information presented in threes — beginning, middle, and end. A typical adult’s concentration starts to wane after 10–12 minutes, so chunking information during longer meetings allows teams to process new information more effectively.
  11. Don’t over-rely on technology. Use PowerPoint slides and online resources to support the discussion with visuals and main points. Ditch the multi-bulleted slides that tempt you to read from the screen!
  12. Always integrate collaborative discussion when presenting new information. A presentation should never be you standing in front of the team and talking “at” your employees.

I’d love to hear some of your tips for effective meetings and presentations when managing neurodiverse employees. Please add them to the comments, making this an even better resource for readers.


Credit:AndreyPopov /iStockphoto Standard License


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