In a MeetingSphere Discussion workspace, any enquiry of ideas, (supposed) facts or opinions can be supercharged by three factors:
Contributions can be anonymous, tagged by ‘team’ or show the name of the contributor. With anonymity, contributions will be more honest, to the point. Even better, participants will respond to what is 'said', not who said it.
Discuss multiple topics in parallel
You can put up multiple topics in parallel. Everybody focuses on the topics which concern them most and on which they really have something to 'say' while staying in the loop on all topics.
Everybody can contribute simultaneously
Instead of waiting their turn to speak, or an opportunity to respond, or permission to ask a question, participants contribute when they have something to say or a question to ask.
Imagine what you can achieve in group conversations where all participants
share their views freely, when they have something to say or ask
keep an open mind and judge contributions by what is actually 'said'
focus on topics that concern or interest them without losing overall context
and you get an idea what MeetingSphere can do for you and your participants.
Once you have run your first MeetingSphere Discussion, you'll be ready to go even further by, for instance, structuring discussions with 'prompts' or letting participants mark up contributions in context with sticky dots.
In short, you get superior results in record time. Your participants will love the (rare) experience of being truly involved, getting to speak out and having their time respected.
In MeetingSphere, you can discuss multiple topics in parallel. This makes much better use of the brains in the (virtual) room than going through topics sequentially as not every topic that must be covered is of equal interest to all. It is much more efficient than splitting the group into break-out sessions which is
difficult to do online
commits individuals to just one topic - or breaks context when they switch group
requires extra time for groups to update each other on their work.
In practice, where time is limited, discussing topics one after another simply means that important topics are crowded out and not discussed at all. This can be painful if your participants hold relevant knowledge or simply need to be involved and you cannot reconvene them at will.
Offering multiple topics for discussion also prevents participants for whom the current topic is simply of no interest from switching off and going to sleep or - if the meeting is online - doing something else, such as catching up on their email or making coffee.
You add topics to the Discussion workspace manually or by copy & paste. Often, topics will be highly prioritized or controversial ideas, suggestions, supposed facts or solutions you and your group want to understand better, or build consensus on.
If you offer multiple topics, participants usually navigate them independently. They focus on topics that are of concern to them or where they have something particular to contribute.
The contribution counters on the topics facilitate navigation. They show the total number of contributions and how many of these the person in question has not yet read. When the allocated time is almost up, give people a few minutes to catch up on unread contributions, so everybody is on the same page before you move on.
A Free To-The-Point exchange of views
Participants 'enter' a topic to contribute. Contributions are immediately visible to all and can be responded to directly with an argument, supporting fact or a question. 'Responses' are shown indented to the contribution they refer to and are, in turn, immediately available to be answered or questioned.
This makes for speed as participants can exchange several times on any specific aspect or argument, where conventionally they might only get to speak once or not at all.
The Power of Anonymity
Unfortunately, as anybody who has ever led a meeting or facilitated a workshop knows, the technical ability to contribute as in, 'Miller, what do you think?' does not guarantee that participants will share what they know or think. This reluctance can be caused by many real or imagined factors such as fear of ridicule or of personal consequences, or loyalties or a general aversion to speaking to groups or power. Whatever the reason, people not saying what they really know or think undercuts the purpose of the exercise: Why engage in a discussion where the real issues are not discussed, known facts not disclosed or dressed up and objections not raised or if raised, veiled? Alas for anyone who takes the results of such discussions at face value.
Worse, disclosure alone does not make a fruitful discussion. In most groups, there are brave individuals who do speak out, even in the face of power. Sadly, this doesn't mean that what they say actually gets heard. All too often it matters more who says it than what is said. Such prejudice ad personam is not always conscious but it is always destructive. The meetings in which the key point went unheard because the person saying it was too junior or from the wrong department are legion. So are those in which ludicrous statements were accepted because the source was trusted.
The reluctance, in meetings, to say what we really think and the reliance on personal or tribal prejudice when processing information is deeply ingrained in human behavior. They are very difficult to overcome which is why expert facilitators take their time in building trust. It is also why good facilitators can command significant fees.
Get Anonymity Whitepaper
MeetingSphere simply side steps the issue by providing assured anonymity on demand whenever the leader of a meeting requires full disclosure and open mindedness. Participants get this immediately: Hot issues are shared directly - no warming up required. Ideas, opinions or facts are discussed on merit alone. This is a fundamentally liberating and deeply satisfying experience. It also produces results that hold water, reliably and fast.
You can specify up to 3 sticky dots (MeetingSphere Pro: 5) by color, quantity and meaning and whether they can be placed on topics or comments or both. Allocation can occur 'privately' meaning that participants are blind to the allocations of others while they place their dots of 'joint' meaning that placements or withdrawals are immediately visible to all.
This enables a host of of powerful use cases where comments can be prioritized or flagged in context. For instance, to avoid wasting time by participants laboring on points that are clear enough, you could use sticky dots to focus the attention on the group on comments that require more info or substantiation. Participants could then withdraw their dots once their information needs are satisfied.
With MeetingSphere Pro, you can structure discussions with 'prompts' to ensure that participants think of and cover relevant aspects.
This is especially useful when the outcomes of a meeting or workshop feed into predefined 'next steps' or templates or systems.
Automatic Documentation - Export
Like all MeetingSphere workspaces, Discussion is self-documenting.
Discussions are, of course, included in the meeting report which is available instantly as a Word document. For follow-up processing with other applications, export the data as a text file.