Euphemisms rarely give the game away as clearly as management asking for somebody's 'buy in'. It is management speak that usually means: 'Here's something you won't like. The decision is final. We'd want you to play along'.
Why is it that people sometimes just won't?
Becoming invested by being involved is different. It means that your contribution becomes part of the outcome. Directly or by others building on what you have contributed or, at the very least, giving it serious consideration. For the individuals concerned and sometimes even the groups they represent, becoming invested in this way is all about that involvement being for real, credible.
Having many 'co-investors' in an initiative or outcome meaning relevant people interested in success is a good thing. Even better, the outcome is also likely to be more relevant, on target and comprehensive than it could be without people contributing what they know and can think of.
So why don't we all get everybody involved all the time? Well, until now, it hasn't been easy nor cheap.
If getting involved means lots of thankless extra effort, most people will give it a pass. Unfortunately, this logic works most strongly for people who
have lots of important (other) work to do
are already involved in lots of initiatives
have a grasp of the required detail or the overall picture
can make things happen
in short, the very people you'd want to attend your meeting. Consequently, if you want the right people to come, even if you are their boss, you'd better not burden them with travel. Travel scores high on effort and zero on involvement. Which is why many of the most important meetings - if you want the right participants - must occur online.
Which would be fine, if web conferences were made for getting people involved.
Web conferencing: The curse of low expectations
Web conferencing solves the issue of travel. These days, audio in web conferences is quite good. And it’s usually easy to connect. But, after 20 years, web conferencing is still not about getting attendees involved.
With 5 or more people on a conference call, getting a word is difficult. People are often unheard, feel ignored, switch off and do something else. Since they know what to expect, those who can will find an excuse not to attend. After all, a waste of time remains just that travel or not. Of those who must show up, quite a few can be expected to actually plan to catch up on their email – or their sleep – in the conference.
Tough, if your success depends on getting results and people on board.
MeetingSphere removes the barriers
With MeetingSphere it’s different. It not only solves the fundamental issue of (not) getting a word in. It also cracks the other issues which keep people from being their best and fully engaged in a meeting.
Barrier 1: One person talking shuts everybody up
Getting involved means that the exchange must be dynamic. Which it is not when only one person can speak at any time. It’s a numbers game. With 10 people in the conference, the person speaking shuts up the remaining 9. This gets worse with more people in the ‘room’ and may become intolerable when one or several participants dominate the conversation.
Spoiler alert: Shutting up the dominant people is not the answer. Their contributions are often valuable, and they may be passionate about the outcome - which is probably what you want. Likewise, putting the introverts on the spot as in "Jim, you haven’t said anything so far" is not going to cut it: You are not very likely to hit a moment where Jim actually wants to say something and, even if so, he may be genuinely uncomfortable speaking to a group. Worse, if all introverts in the group would claim their air time, the situation would quickly become insufferable for the extroverts who tend to chafe at having to wait their turn.
Again, MeetingSphere comes to the rescue: In the workspaces everybody can ‘speak’ at the same time. Nobody is shut up. Nobody is made uncomfortable by having to address the group. Contributions can be responded to directly: With a question, a challenge, additional detail or a related thought. Introverts – often the ones who really know their stuff and have lots to add – thrive. Many views interact and produce a comprehensive picture of what is the case or should be the case or might get you there.
This involves everyone, is intensely collaborative and fast.
Just because they technically can doesn’t mean people will contribute. There are many reasons why participants won’t say what they (really) think or share (in full) what they know. Such reasons range from fear of ridicule or invoking the displeasure of management to favors owed – and often work unconsciously. This is bad enough but the bar for getting involved sits even higher: Getting involved requires listening to and mentally engaging with the contributions of others. This requires an open mind and taking those contributions seriously and why would we do that? When we know that, for example, Joe is just about stirring up trouble and Jane - while being good, honest and forthcoming in private conversation - will just not call a spade a spade in a meeting. Why indeed engage with opinions or statements of fact we must suspect of leaving out the interesting or awkward bits?
All this changes. MeetingSphere solves the issues of self-censorship, personal prejudice and cynicism by providing anonymity. Anonymity lets participants keep an open mind, say what they think and trust that the others do so, too. (Learn more on anonymity)
Barrier 3: Not my topic!
It is not just participants who can go ‘off topic’. Perhaps just as often, conventional discussions focus on topics that are simply ‘off’ for individual participants. Because they don’t know anything about it. Because it doesn’t affect them. Because those dominating the discussion have gone down a rabbit hole or are chasing a red herring.
Of course, all topics cannot always be relevant to all people. However, bored participants switch off. Do something else. And you may not get their attention back when you need their input on something else.
MeetingSphere helps to avoid this waste: Rating (more) enables the group to prioritize topics that concern them and on which they have something to offer. The Discussion workspace (more) enables the discussion of multiple topics in parallel. Individuals can contribute to the topics that matter to them and stay engaged. The group covers much more ground than possible conventionally.