Ever sat in a meeting thinking it should have finished 20 minutes ago? Or waited until the end to ask a burning question but thought better of it in case you ruffled any feathers? I certainly have and I am confident I’m not the only one out there.
Meetings can be tedious but they are a necessity in any business, often resulting in added creativity and new ideas. They do tend to overrun with the same people talking and little interaction from the wider business.
So what can we do to make meetings more focused, more efficient and more inclusive? LiveSift believes it has the answer.
By offering a set of online tools to create interactive agendas, provide structure and make sure that everybody has the chance to give their two cents’ worth, LiveSift believes meetings can be more productive, efficient and even fun.
And do you know what? They might just be onto something.
Here’s how it works:
The chair of the meeting uses a PC or Mac to create an agenda, structuring the flow of the meeting by adding options including brainstorming sessions, polls, SWOT analysis and Q&A sessions.
The computer can then be connected to a larger screen so everyone can see contributions as the meeting progresses.
Participants log in by going to the LiveSift homepage and entering a unique code.
There is nothing to download or install so people can use their own device, be it a phone, tablet or desktop.
Members then take part in the meeting and can answer questions from speakers, ask questions, rate answers and provide their thoughts and ideas.
Everything is in real time – contributions are displayed in seconds and in digestible visuals including graphs, charts and rankings. This cuts down the need for that other pesky get together – the wash-up meeting.
I had a play around with LiveSift by creating a brainstorming session. First things first – it is incredibly simple to use with an easy, almost fun interface that lets you design your meeting exactly the way you want it, step by step.
Once finished, I gave participants the code and they logged on with their devices and began to submit their ideas. It was instant, with answers displayed on my computer screen, steadily collating them in a report I could access afterwards.
That’s all well and good – the toolkit works and it could be a great way to gather information in a timely fashion.
But this is where LiveSift has got the edge on this type of collaboration enhancement. Every contribution – comment, question, answer or vote – is completely anonymous.
It’s a simple tweak but the perfect way to encourage members to input into meetings, changing them from a mere observer to an active contributor.
The thought behind LiveSift is impressive and it’s a great option for larger meetings.
My only concern is whether it’s the right tool for smaller companies where the biggest meeting may only include 10-20 people. Do they need a tool like this?
I asked co-founder Alexander Bergo for his thoughts.
He said: “I think the current set of tools work well with groups that are slightly bigger but for smaller staff meetings, LiveSift can be implemented in brainstorming sessions and ranking exercises.
“Regardless of group size, having a way to easily rank issues takes a lot of the politics out of the group process. The decision maker can always choose to what extent they follow the advice, but letting people give their input and affect the process equally really makes a huge difference.”
Apart from this slight reservation, it’s clear to see that it could do something big for an organisation’s meeting process.
But even more than that, it could be used to gain some real insight into its people to find the best ways of communicating with them, ultimately increasing engagement.
Alexander added: “Early comments from customers is that they get five times the feedback in their meetings. As a business/meeting leader you get access to all the brains you pay for, while enabling colleagues to participate really increases buy-in and productivity.”
Platform: Web browser
Verdict: LiveSift has got something here. It’s easy to use, embraces BYOD, gives more structure to meetings and provides great ways to evaluate information.
But where it impresses is the way it encourages interaction through anonymity – such a simple element that will give everyone an opportunity to give honest feedback, encouraging participation. It may be better suited to larger companies to make the most of all the features, but I’m sure Alex and his colleagues will be accommodating smaller businesses in no time.