Meetings in an age of sharing
“What a waste of time!” “I couldn’t say a single thing.” “Talk about making a mountain out of a molehill…”. These exasperated comments that have been heard time after time as people leave a meeting room show the dismay or even the bitterness of staff members who are frustrated by this waste of time and grey matter. What’s more, 88% of managers say that they have felt useless in meetings in the past and 32% say that they’ve even nodded off in one¹! This is an alarming statistics which is encouraging many organisation and digital specialists to create collaborative solutions and tools to free up collective potential.
Most experts feel that the ideal meeting is based above all on a few fundamentals: preparation of the agenda and objectives, quality of the discussions and the reception given to participants’ comments, clarity of decision-making, the meeting minutes and the distribution of tasks. Several techniques enable this to be achieved.
The TOP method, for example, is a simple and understated one: three elements are enough to prepare a meeting effectively: the theme, the objectives and the plan. Defining and communicating these few pieces of information clarifies expectations and enables the participants to prepare their contributions better.
Oriented more towards problem-solving, the co-development approach is intended to stimulate discussion to share good practice better within a group. This pacey technique provides for time-limited phases for the presentation of the issue, individual examination then discussion, followed by the development of an action plan.
In the first part of the meeting, other techniques use alternative methods of expression, such as drawings or post-its, which provide support for discussion in the second part.
The pleasure of playing
These methods tend to consider meetings as a game. Before the game, each player takes note of its rules, i.e. the conditions for participation and success, which are the same for everyone. They then try to exploit them to their advantage to reach the predefined goal. The players enjoy negotiating, receiving feedback and feeling that their contributions have an impact on how the game proceeds.
While these methods have proven their worth, in practice they are often reserved for specific meetings or to the happy few. Their implementation requires time-consuming preparation, expensive training sessions and the intervention of external facilitators. In short, it is almost impossible to roll them out across the board.
In the digital era, more and more people are looking to new sharing and collaborative tools developed by specialist companies. Also based on play and interaction, they promise accessibility to all of the highest performing tools and techniques to facilitate meetings and brainstorming sessions.
“It used to take me a crazy amount of time to prepare the meeting each week” says Inès, who manages around ten project managers in the event promotion industry. “I would list the problems that people told me about during one-to-one sessions or informal discussions. Then I’d prioritise them to talk about them during the meeting. But I always felt that I could never put my finger on the actual issues. One day, a colleague who wanted to influence the choice of subjects to be discussed, told me about Klaxoon, a tool developed by a French start-up, which they had used during a training session. “
Inès was won over by a demo and now uses the activities available in the Klaxoon collaborative platform to encourage her colleagues to get more involved. “I use the Live Storms in particular. They enable each person to submit subjects and priorities them to develop the agenda collectively. Not only do I save preparation time, but more and more I am seeing participants react more quickly and who don’t think twice about adding things and going back over the ideas which are posted before voting for concrete solutions. “
Inès is not unique in her thinking. Whatever their size or their sector of activity, dozens of companies are using the collaborative tools developed by Klaxoon and which have won several international prizes, including the prestigious Las Vegas CES Innovation Award.
For the young Rennes-based company, the objective is to stimulate discussion and idea-sharing during meetings to free up creativity and boost team members’ commitment. “By using activities which are easy to implement and with full autonomy, employees are given more responsibility and invest naturally in the process”, emphasises Anne Paumier, Klaxoon consultant. “The participants connect to the platform with their smartphones to react, comment on or complete the ideas. This means that they inspire each other and enjoy going quicker and further. “
Flexible to deploy, quick to start using and accompanied by a whole host of usage cases, these new tools have the advantage that they are ideal for global groups and businesses and SMEs, authorities, consultants and independent trainers alike. Underpinning them is one major objectives: to enable a broad spectrum of actors to take advantage of the most high-tech meeting facilitation techniques and the savings they promise.
¹ 2014 IFOP survey “Managers and meetings: attitudes and perceptions”