April 12, 2022

Barking dogs and silent mice – does everyone get an equal say at your meetings?

Elin Warfvinge
Barking dogs and silent mice during meetings

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The Challenge

A common problem at meetings and conferences is when employees become passive listeners instead of active participants. When the speaker opens up the floor for questions from the audience, the same few people end up speaking on behalf of the entire audience.

Without encouraging other audience members to let their voices be heard, you’ll never hear the other ideas that might exist within the group. The big question: how can you, an event admin, make it easy, comfortable, and fun for all participants to share their thoughts and questions during a meeting?

The main goal of any meeting should be to create a safe and creative environment for audience members to interact freely and equally without fear.


The Solution

The key to obtaining qualitative and honest feedback from the meeting participants is through anonymity and accessibility. When employees have the chance to participate anonymously and are able to submit their feedback when it suits them (before the meeting, in the middle of a presentation, or during an organized Q&A), you will immediately see an increase in participation. Additionally, the feedback also becomes more open and honest because they feel that they can contribute in a safe and comfortable manner.

Visualizing the discussion also helps to activate the participants. When asking a question, you can display the participants’ anonymous responses in a bar chart or word cloud on a big screen; this will quickly give a snapshot of how they think, in turn, allowing you to adjust the direction and pace of the meeting.

If it turns out that many have misunderstood something, you have the opportunity to stop and explain the concept in more detail. If there are differing opinions, you will quickly notice through the visual on the screen and you’ll know to set aside time to deepen the given discussion.


Participants show the way

Our customer Vitec holds a meeting every year with the aim of gathering new ideas that will form the basis for product development. At this meeting, the participants are divided into groups and given the task of producing a number of proposals for new features. They submit their suggestions directly in their meeting app and everyone can then vote anonymously on their favorite suggestions.

The result of the vote is revealed live during the meeting, and the three features that receive the most votes are selected to be implemented in the upcoming product development campaign. Through this process, management knows for sure that the features they develop are in demand by the users because they were able to generate accurate feedback from the entire audience.


Anonymous responses averted the crisis

Another one of our customers used the app during a conference where they introduced a new business strategy. The conference began with a presentation of the strategy, and then the participants got to formulate and anonymously submit their thoughts and questions into the event app.

The engagement was great and when the CEO read the feedback, he realized that there were many who did not understand or believe in the new strategy. The insight was painful, but the value was great as he could directly address the ambiguities and adapt the communication around the strategy.

Because of the app’s anonymous feedback feature, the CEO was able to adjust the strategy to fit the needs of different departments instead of implementing something that would not work.


With the help of a meeting app everyone could get an equal say

An organization had been struggling for a long time to reach a decision on increased membership fees, something that was needed to be able to finance a necessary change. The issue had been raised at several meetings before and at all meetings, the opposers to the increased fee had won after an open vote. However, at one meeting, management decided to let all participants vote anonymously in the event app.

When they reviewed the results of this vote, it turned out that a large majority were in favor of the proposal. This situation exemplifies that, sometimes, those who make the most noise are not always representative of the whole group, so it is important to find a way that allows everyone the opportunity to share their opinions.


How can you do this?

Participate anonymously

Get better insight with anonymous answers. Let the participants share their expectations before the conference, respond to a poll during a lecture, and provide feedback after the meeting completely anonymously. Whether people dare not to speak or if a few people make enough noise for the whole group, you can squash these problems by using the dialogue feature in your meeting app. Give everyone the opportunity to contribute on their own terms, making it easier, safer, and more enjoyable to participate.


Let the participants control the development

Do a fun and rewarding workshop that makes all participants feel heard, seen, and valued. Present an issue, let the participants suggest solutions in the app and then hold a vote in real time where everyone can vote anonymously on their favorite suggestion. Present the winner and tell everyone how and when you will implement the proposal. Through this simple, concrete, and fun activity, you will receive lots of ideas and your employees will feel more involved in your business.


Set aside time

If you want your participants to get involved and ask questions during a meeting, set aside time for it! Let the participants submit questions whenever they want and also give them a few minutes at the end of a presentation to formulate and submit their thoughts. Allocate five to fifteen minutes to select and answer questions. If you have received more questions than you can answer, you can follow up afterwards—set a deadline together and then answer directly in the app so that everyone is included and the discussion is able to continue even after the conference.

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