Involving everyone in an online session isn’t always easy. For a value proposition workshop, we need a broad range of perspectives, which means bringing people together with different experiences and levels of expertise. This can mean conflicting personalities and agendas. But there are lots of reasons why people may not feel comfortable contributing.
At Blackad it’s our business to get to the bottom of what your business stands for and we have tried-and-tested ways of removing barriers, so people can contribute. Here are a few tips on how we encourage people to talk and share in group sessions.
People like processes. If you know what’s coming next, there are no surprises. So, you feel comfortable and you’re more likely to talk freely. Our process starts before we meet, when we send over some juicy pre-session questions. We send these to everyone joining the session, to gather background information on your brand and make sure we get a broad set of answers as our starting point. And then we decide in advance which parts of the session will be group discussions and which will be individual contributions – we’ll put it all in an agenda so you know what’s what.
Before 2020 happened (let’s not dwell…), we had ways of really involving people in IRL meetings – often involving snacks and hot drinks. We can’t do that in the world of Microsoft Teams and Zoom, so we have to replicate that cup of tea and a classy biscuit with our personalities. Now, we’re no Choco Leibniz, but we’ll have a chat and try to put you at ease as best we can. And we’ll spare you any long-winded icebreakers or warm-up exercises.
If we fail to include with our personalities, we’ll just have to do it with clever and accessible tech. We’ll ask in advance if any attendees have additional support needs. For example, some people with dyslexia can find it hard to read from online whiteboards, so we can swap to a different platform. We can use open or closed captioning if you need us to. We also use stupidly expensive headsets, so you can hear every last syllable.
We mostly use Mural in our sessions, because we find it an easy place to collect your ideas and display them on virtual post-its. The board is an un-intimidating and infinitely changeable word soup at this stage. A bit like us, before we’ve had our morning coffee.
The rule is: anything and everything from the session goes on the board. And it stays unsifted until we’ve finished the meeting. When everyone knows The Rule, we all feel included and don’t worry about saying the ‘wrong’ thing, as if such a thing exists.
We want to hear from a full range of folk in our workshops, usually between 3-6 people from C-suite to sales. This often means a full range of personalities too. We’ve all had to work with people who dominate meetings to the point where you mentally leave the room. It’s never easy to get an Alpha to sit back and listen to an Omega, but it is up to the person running the session to give everyone space to be heard, by noticing the quieter folk and asking them what they think or if they agree. Which brings us to…
Voting is an important way of recognising session highlights — you get to hear what everyone really thinks, rather than people responding to their neighbour / lunchclub buddy / boss. It’s also impossible for one person to vote more loudly or doggedly than everyone else. There are no alphas in anonymous voting. At least until the technology moves on and that becomes a thing.
We record every value proposition workshop and send it to all participants as a private video link as well as a PDF. At this point we’ll ask if we’ve missed anything important – it’s rare that someone will come back at this stage with “oh and another thing”, but we like to give people another chance.
In conclusion, you can’t change people’s personalities, but there’s a lot you can do to make sure that everyone has their say in an online session. A thoughtful approach, robust processes and accessible tech all help. Ultimately, the more everyone talks, the more we all learn about the real selling points of your brand. And the faster we can all turn off our cameras and eat biscuits.
Get in touch to chat about the best approach to value propositions for your company, or learn more about our value proposition and brand language process.