Survey Questions

Survey Questions

It’s not an easy task. Organizing an event and catering to everyone’s interests and needs. Through social media and through many offline events, most people already have seen and heard a lot. When organizing an event it is easy to put standards high, but at times it can be a challenge to execute to that level.

Yet, why organize an event alone? Your target audience consist out of different profiles: customers, employees, citizens or other types of stakeholders. What makes them tick? Once you’ve identified your event theme, it makes it much easier to involve your audience. Not on the event day itself, but already weeks ahead. Making them part of your event preparations. Engage them and get inspired!

Your audience | Before your event starts

Of course you’d like to surprise your attendees and as such not give away too much ahead of the event. Yet, there are some ingredients that are easier to explore together with your audience. Of which in doing so, will result in a stronger event proposition:

  • The theme of your event: The more in-depth you’d like to approach a theme, the easier you make it yourself by finding out what people already know about it [e.g. climate control in office spaces during an event about sustainability]. Or to figure out what their personal opinion is on matters [e.g. integrity in the banking sector during an event about business ethics].Important In advance the findings can be shared with the speakers of the event. It will give them insight in what people already know. As such they can cut in Powerpoint slides or adjust their storyline in the days ahead of the event. On the event itself it is then often a strong kick-off to hear a speaker briefly telling about what he already knows about an audience. Once informed, the speakers and their stories to share, are to a large extend aligned with the audience’s expectations.
  • The speakers of your event: Not only can you consult your audience about their opinions and knowledge level. You can also find out which speaker they’d like to hear. Either as an open question, or steered with suggestions. Let the audience maybe not decide on all speakers, but say half of them. As such you can also promote your event with your potential audience as being a “tailor-made” event!
How far would you like to go? Obviously every detail can be discussed in advance. From venue to lunch. Yet the big ingredients might be worth exploring the most. Once you get a sense of those ingredients, from there often other practicalities become clearer by themselves.

How to consult your audience?

With the survey feature of Sendsteps you can easily setup an online survey. On a webpage you can formulate different type of multiple choice- and open questions. In any amount and in any order you’d like. In either a basic branding, or in your company’s design.

Once done, you can send it out to all your [potential] attendees. Throughout the survey period you can keep track of the responses in an online dashboard. You can easily generate reports to then send to your speakers or share with your team and as such brief everybody who is involved.

Your audience | After the event

We all know the online surveys after an event took place. We’re often already busy again with other activities. Catching up emails for instance after a busy conference day. Therefore it is wise to evaluate your event on the spot. By asking your audience just a few questions before they leave the venue. Keep it short and simple:

  • On a scale from 1 [poor] to 10 [excellent], how would you rate today’s event?
  • How likely do you consider to attend next year’s edition?
  • Can you share with us at least one point for improvement?

The above questions can be pretty much applied to any event. The outcome is truly helpful in evaluating the success of the event and of course to improve any next edition!

Interesting Offering unique event experiences can be to a great extend created when involving your most important stakeholders: the audience. Turn them into co-creators. And eventually into your best ambassadors. What would you like to know from them?

Please let us know if you need any assistance with the setup and execution of your Sendsteps Survey! We’re there to give you some inspiration and to help you with getting your survey out!

About the author

Robert DaverschotChairman | Moderator | Sidekick

Robert is a professional moderator, dialogue facilitator and sidekick and works both independently and on behalf of Sendsteps audience response system. Robert has years of experience at home and abroad and has interviewed, ministers, captains of industry as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In his dealings with the audience, he always uses Sendsteps. With Sendsteps an audience is able to voice their opinions, whereby attendees can cast votes or send in open comments and questions to the speakers and panels on stage. As such events turn into 2.0 experiences with everyone being able to speak up!


Fun office games for employees

Fun office games for employees

Albert Einstein might have summarized it in the best way: “Play is the highest form of research”. Office games create an informal atmosphere which helps to create trust at the workplace, boost morale and foster engagement among your staff. The more trust is present in a team, the more innovation will take root.

However, in our daily operation we often forget to play. More than ever we need to think differently as our reality is changing with a rapid speed. Time to bring in crazy ideas and to challenge our perspective on many topics.

So, how now to incorporate some play and fun challenges into your work?

This blog will give you and your coworkers concrete ideas to spice up your office fridays: from a quick 1-minute competition, word games to play from behind your desk to an indoor activity for all employees. Some games have a serious character, some of them are pure play. Pick one of them and see for yourself what works best in your office setting.

Can you already feel the innovation boiling?

Fun Games

Happier people work harder. So let’s get started!

Top 10 fun games to play in the office when bored

At Sendsteps we’ve selected a top 10 fun games to play in office. When bored on fridays then your coworkers will always be in for:

  • Guess who: Write down names on cards of famous people. Let employees pick a card randomly. Takes 30-second turns on interviewing the person that has a name. Answers can only contain “yes” or “no”. The one that has most names guessed correctly is the winner. One of the easy word games to play, but with a lot of fun guaranteed!
  • Escape room: Get out of the trusted office environment and challenge your team with visiting an escape room. There’s many types out there as escape rooms become increasingly more popular.
  • Pingpong: Prevent an after lunch dip and play a game of pingpong. The pingpong table will become a nice spot to socialize and over time a metaphor for fun in the office.
  • Circle of Questions: Formulate a list of unexpected questions. Let every attendee pick one question to address to their neighbour. Like: “What’s the best memory of your grandmother”, or “What do you find the world’s most beautiful place”?
  • Truth and lies: Let everyone come up with a truth and two lies. The rest of the group has to decide which of the three situations told is the truth.
  • Post-It Note Adventure: Hide an object indoors and let post-its throughout the office give clues on where to search next for the hidden object. And of course: make sure to think of fun prizes!
  • Tidy the place: As silly as it may sound, but cleaning and tidying together will create a crisp work environment and is an easy socializing activity.
  • Volunteer for a day: Some companies provide one day a year off to together work on a voluntary project. Do good for society and in the meantime bond with your work peers!
  • A movie, a story: What is your favorite movie and what does it say about you? Pick an online video trailer, show it and briefly share your thoughts with the movie.
  • Personality tests: There are hundreds of personality tests out on the web. From light to serious. Pick a test that fits best and discuss the outcomes with your team.

Interactive team building fun games for meetings

Want to break the routine in your weekly office meetings? Let coworkers conduct a 5 minute interview with each other about their last week’s project [on itself already a valuable team building exercise in still a corporate vibe.]:

When done, let everyone give a 1-minute pitch with 1] a summary of the story of the other 2] a compliment to the other and 3] a suggestion to improve. A simple, yet more serious intervention. Want to stick to more fun games to play? Simple and indoor? Then you might want to check again our previous blog on 5-minute team building activities and other interactive fun games!

Quick & small fun games, 1 minute games

Games in office don’t always need to take long. There’s many small fun activities that only take 1 minute of your time. Imagine when you can have a laugh for a minute in all of your meetings throughout the week!

One of these quick fun office games is to appoint someone in office who picks a fun yet inspirational quote that represents the theme of team building. Your team member has to prepare this in advance and the team can take turns per week. Either start or end your meeting with the quote and then boast that the indoors company vibe!

Indoor fun office games

Being in a corporate environment doesn’t mean adults can’t have fun! So time to bring in a classic. Maybe one of the most famous activities in the category group games – the helium stick!

Get yourself a helium stick, or otherwise a thin and light rod. Let the attendees stand up, face each other, stretch their arms and point out the index fingers. Now put the stick on their fingers and instruct them to bring the stick together to the ground. Sounds easy? Just wait and see!

Tip This is one of the simple activities that works great for small groups. Keep it light or add a dimension by evaluating the group process afterwards: what worked well and what could have been done differently?

Fun office competition games

Want to add some little team competition onto the office work floor? Then try this intellectual exercise:

Make two teams. One team defines a well-known phenomenon, person or object. For instance “pyramids”, “Mandela” or “the golden age”. Then define 5 words that relate to this pick. E.g. in the case of Mandela: “Robben Island”, “Apartheid”, “South Africa”, “ANC” and “Nobel Prize”. Now the other team gets to know the topic and has to mention within a set time all of the keywords.

Interesting Not only is it a challenge for the other team, it also forces the first team to dive into “nice-to-know-stuff”. This isn’t only a competitive game, it’s also one of the words games that can teach you a lot!

Fun team office games

Competitive coworkers might not add to the vibe at the office. It’s a different cup of tea when you’re about to play a game with them. At work “listening” is a skill that cannot be practised enough. One of the activities fostering this skill, is back-to-back drawing:

Divide your team in pairs. Let everyone sit back to back. One partner has an illustration, the other partner has pen/pencil and paper to draw. From here the partner with the illustration has to tell the other partner on how to draw the illustration. This requires not only careful explanation, but also clear questioning from the other person who is drawing the picture.

Tip Done with explaining and drawing? Now turn around and face each other again. See how accurate [or not] the drawing has become. And of course compare the result with other pairs. Who of all the artistits seems to have the most accurate drawing? Maybe one your competitive coworkers or maybe one of the least expected colleagues…!

Fun group activity games

Why stay in the office? Leaving the workplace and finding yourself with your coworkers in unexpected non-corporate places, can easily sparkle new energy and ideas! Browse the web for just 10 minutes and see the big offer of great outdoor activities.

Surprise your office staff and go kayaking on a river, build a hut in the forest or plan a horse-whisperer session! Depending on your budget, you can find a lot of fun things to do. Some of the activities have a clear team building element to it. Others are simply good fun!

Tip To make everyone feel involved and engaged, you might want to consider to let employees vote on what activity to choose. It’s not easy to satisfy everyone, but at least you can try to steer it somewhat as such.

Few more Games

There’s many fun games out there [as the previous section shows]. Yet, there are also games with a more serious character. In this last section we’ll deal with a few of these games:

Management games for office

Ever thought of what your staff is really thinking about their work conditions? How do they experience the food in the canteen, are they happy with the setup of their office workplace and do the value either more money or more free time when it comes to it?

These or very different subjects can easily be addressed with an online questionnaire. For instance to be composed through the Sendsteps Audience Response tool. As soon as the results are gathered [let’s say over the course of a week or so], then a non-management member can present the results to the management. Before showing the actual outcomes, you can build in a moment to let the managers discuss amongst each other of what they think the outcome will be. The more serious questions don’t leave much space to call it a game any longer, but you can vary with the depth of questions and see how it best relates to the setting of your discussion. As such its either one of the more serious management games or in the end, a strategic session.

Motivational games for employees

When presenting to your employees you can easily turn a serious presentation into an element of fun. Something to think about and to play at work. Consider a question within your presentation with which your office team can decide on the next subject to discuss. Or test their knowledge about the theme you’re addressing.

One of the other nice word games, is to ask colleagues to come up with words representing their feelings about a certain theme. Words that you can than turn into a word cloud. E.g. “What is your biggest motivation to work at this project?”. Attendees can send in words like “sustainability”, “teamwork”, “profit” or “challenging”

Tip For work ethic purposes you might consider to print the word cloud and to hang it in your hallway, canteen or reception area. A nice memory to a fun game and important subject!

 

Safe Room Amsterdam

Safe Room Amsterdam

11% of Amsterdam-based freelancers feel “seriously lonely”. Think of web designers, copywriters or musicians. Professionals who are passionate in what they do. Far from ‘people shy’, but the nature of their work often involves a high level of solitude.

Some freelancers deal well with that, they even like it, but 11% simply struggles with it. Visiting a Starbucks, doesn’t necessarily do the trick.

Safe Room Amsterdam: the concept

  • Recognition. To what extent do you yourself recognize the challenges around the subject?
  • What can you do about it yourself? In little groups talking through concrete solutions.
  • What can others do about it? Reflections from expert speakers that talk along with the audience.

Next to that, every Safe Room edition always contains a few fixed characteristics:

  • Safe Bubble: A small living room pre-event with 8 attendees to talk through the topic and finetune the content for the actual event.
  • Facilitation: The actual Safe Room event is hosted by two facilitators; a man and a woman.
  • Audience response technology: The event makes use of Sendsteps to participate anonymously. This fosters people to share without having to speak in public.
  • Role of expert speakers: The speakers are seated among the rest of the audience. They’re not invited to give a presentation, but are there to reflect out loud and think along together with like-minded attendees. Expert speakers come from different backgrounds. Through their input, the subject gets a 360 degree perspective.
Important With this formula Safe Room doesn’t only want to cherish dialogue among the attendees, it also stimulates cross-fertilization: attendee experiences plus the knowledge of experts sometimes results in social innovation. New ideas in the city: to make city life a little more fun!

Anonymous replies, lively talks!

During the “recognition” part, Sendsteps was used to ask the audience: “To what extend did you feel lonely last month?”. A [too] direct question to ask a group that has just met and doesn’t know each other. Yet, the fact that attendees can respond anonymous, allows the facilitators to immediately start a dialogue on a substantial level.

There’s no need asking “who responded a,b or c?”, the result on the screen is all that counts. From there you can easily ask clarifying questions like “Who likes to elaborate on this?”. Or, “Who recognizes this?”. The anonymous responses on the screen often work as a trigger to many attendees to share a little from their own experiences. From there, the expert speakers can easily tap into the discussion and the talks become lively and dynamic.

Group talks in a safe setting

With taboos it is easy to lose yourself in negativity. Yet, Safe Room encourages attendees to contribute to a positive forward-thinking climate. Which ideas are there to share? How can you profit from other person’s best practices? During a plenary summary, groups and individuals are briefly interviewed by the facilitators to share outcomes. But only, if people are willing and if they feel safe enough to do so. At all times Safe Room attendees should feel comfortable and safe to join the conversation if they like to.

Live evaluation and concrete results

The first edition of Safe Room Amsterdam was evaluated on the spot. On purpose; to evaluate what went well and what could be further improved. The evaluation was done with help of Sendsteps and the results were shared with the audience. The event scored an 8.3 and received constructive tips for next editions.

For instance, introducing “connectors” helping people that walk into the group, to connect with other attendees. Besides the evaluation of the event, the attendees also agreed to start small initiatives among themselves [a monthly meetup, a talk with co-working spaces to see what can be done together etc.]; in line the with the philosophy of the event!

Sendsteps a proud sponsor

Sendsteps founder and CEO Steven Blom is a big fan of the Safe Room concept:

In the #metoo era, in times of fake news and social media facades it is great to create events and places where people can openly talk about whatever challenge they experience. The Safe Room concept caters well to this need that many people have. And Sendsteps is used in a very constructive way as such. We’re happy to sponsor this new and positive initiative!

Tip For the new edition of Safe Room Amsterdam, with again a new theme, check www.saferoomamsterdam.com

About the author

Robert DaverschotChairman | Moderator | Sidekick

Robert is a professional moderator, dialogue facilitator and sidekick and works both independently and on behalf of Sendsteps audience response system. Robert has years of experience at home and abroad and has interviewed, ministers, captains of industry as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In his dealings with the audience, he always uses Sendsteps. With Sendsteps an audience is able to voice their opinions, whereby attendees can cast votes or send in open comments and questions to the speakers and panels on stage. As such events turn into 2.0 experiences with everyone being able to speak up!


How to make a presentation interactive

How to make a presentation interactive: best practice examples, software and ideas of interaction with your audience through activities and games

If you would take a minute. And think of a presentation you’ve recently attended. Is there any presentation that pops up in your mind? You probably recall presentations that involved a creative element. Something that encouraged you and the rest of the audience to engage. Think of activities to do, like; talking with your neighbor, the use of audience response software or even games to play.

There are many ways to make group presentations moments to remember. But how to be more interactive during your presentation? What is (an interactive presentation) going to change, the moment you involve your audience? Although there isn’t a single best way, we’d like to share with you the following ideas:

  • Interactive games for a presentation: Any playful and competitive element already soon creates an atmosphere of connection. Often needed to come to a consensus, to get support for new plans and to create a good team vibe!
  • Activities ideas: Giving the audience a task or assignment ignites a proactive mindset. Helpful to empower attendees and to make an entire group responsible for a challenge.
  • Examples of interactive presentations: Copy what you can use and prevent spending time thinking of presentation formats that already proved their success.
  • Interactive presentation software: There’s tools out there that can easily help you to create audience interaction. Anonymous or not. Polls or open questions. Word clouds or surveys. See what works best for you!

When preparing your presentation, inclusive the interactive elements, you obviously like to tune in on your audience profile. Are the attendees higher educated or not, young or older, introvert or extravert, familiar with your subject or not? Getting yourself a clear picture, will help to find the interactive approach that will work best.

Interactive games for a presentation

  • Quiz. Let the entire audience stand up. Ask attendees to be seated upon answering [by raising hands] questions incorrectly. Proceed with the quiz questions, going from easy and simple to creative and difficult, until the last one person is still standing: he or she is the winner! Alternatively use audience response software, whereby attendees can cast [identified] responses. Through your online dashboard or on the presentation screen, you can see who is the winner.Tip Plan your quiz games strategically. Use it as the kick off to create a more relaxed atmosphere. Or after the lunch to prevent a low energy dip. Or use it to close off with it and end with a positive vibe.
  • Pitch-a-neighbour. Instead of asking your attendees to introduce themselves plenary. Or hear their specific thought on something. Ask them to have an interview with their neighbour. Give examples and ideas on what to question in specific. The neighbour then will process the information in such a way that he/or she is able to give a 1 minute pitch about the other towards the rest of the group. This forces you to listen differently and to really get to know the other. One of the more serious games to play.
    Tip Obviously, to do (in a presentation) such an exercise becomes more challenging the moment your audience is bigger. Still then you can pick a few volunteers to present somebody and as such give the crowd an idea of who’s present today. A truly interactive presentation!

Interactive activities to do in a presentation

  • Send in Scenarios. When giving group presentations, it is always a question what to exactly cover. Every attendee is unique in his/her professional experience and knowledge and therefore it can be a challenge to cater to everyone. Already in an early stage, before preparing your powerpoint, you can ask your attendees a few questions in advance. To measure their knowledge and to hear from them what they expect from your presentation. With online surveys this can be easily executed. This will give you the right input to tailor your story.TipOr when you feel comfortable enough with your topic, you might as well ask the questions on the spot using audience response tooling. Let attendees discuss in pairs whereby this becomes one of the more practical activities during your presentation. After a few minutes the audience will send in their responses and you can decide which topics or ideas to pick and when to elaborate on it.
  • Cross the line. This one of the games that requires a little more venue space. Ideally you have an open space, where attendees can walk around freely, with in the midst a line to cross. This game can be played for fun or with a more substantial approach. As one of the examples, think of a conference about sustainability. Now you can ask attendees questions related to that: “Who has an electric car?”, “Who believes climate change can be still turned around” etc. Either proceed after each question, or interview a few of the attendees.

Examples of interactive presentations

  • Image research. What is (an interactive presentation) doing differently to an audience compared to a 1.0 presentation? With a 2.0 presentation you can easily make things more personal. Often an audience has a few common characteristics e.g. profession, shared professional themes, job level etc.Make use of the Sendsteps Audience Response System (powerpoint software) and ask 5 multiple choice questions about how the group of professionals see themselves. Once a large conference for accountants took place where a professor presented an image study about the professional group. Tip Before presenting the results he would constantly check in with the attendees to hear their ideas on the research topics and findings. It resulted in both serious insights, as well as fun moments upon the attendees recognizing themselves in the stereotypes of accountants.
  • Case consultants. Games can easily be presented in the form of a case study. Each time you explain a next step in your story, you can work with cases. “What would you do next, or in this specific situation?” whereby attendees can then choose from a few answer options. From there you can proceed with explaining why the answer was wrong or discuss the correct answer. Think of explaining the development of a new and innovative product: “what was the first step?”, “What do you think we walked into?”, “How do you believe competition reacted?” etc.

Interactive presentation software

These days a lot of tools, free or paid, are out there to support you with your interactive presentation. The definition of best tool is hard to give, depending on your list of requirements. Check the web and multimedia to find your prefered solution.

The integration with Powerpoint [no need to use additional screens], the protection of data and the endless branding possibilities, makes Sendsteps Audience Response System great software to work with. A glimpse of the many features:

  • Multiple choice and open ended questions. Collect instant responses. Either anonymous or identified on both multiple choice and open questions. With the open content you can let attendees upvote comments: the most rewarded comment can be addressed!
  • Wordclouds. Create wordclouds with your audience. Describe in one word … “How would you describe the team culture”, “What would be a metaphor for the communication style in this group”, “What did you think of today?” etc.
  • Surveys. Either on the sport, before or after your event; at any given moment you can tune in with the opinion from your attendees. Use it to collect valuable data, to improve your event and to brief the speakers.
Contact usDid you read anything that can match with your audience? Are you able to wrap it into the context of your topic? Feel free to contact us at any time and we’re happy to think along with you!

About the author

Robert DaverschotChairman | Moderator | Sidekick

Robert is a professional moderator, dialogue facilitator and sidekick and works both independently and on behalf of Sendsteps audience response system. Robert has years of experience at home and abroad and has interviewed, ministers, captains of industry as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In his dealings with the audience, he always uses Sendsteps. With Sendsteps an audience is able to voice their opinions, whereby attendees can cast votes or send in open comments and questions to the speakers and panels on stage. As such events turn into 2.0 experiences with everyone being able to speak up!


The 7 Easiest 5-minute Team Building Activities & Exercises for Small Groups

The 7 Easiest 5-minute Team Building Activities & Exercises for Small Groups

Breaking the routine. Many of us like to do things a little different. Just to experience another vibe. To get an extra boost to get the well-known job done again. The meetings within your company can be a good example of such a routine.

That’s why we like to challenge you with a number of quick and easy 5 minute team building activities. Short games and exercises that will put your daily work in a fresh perspective again!

Here’s a short overview of the type of activities and games that will be discussed in this blog article:

  • Team building activities for small groups. How well do you actually know each other? Despite maybe the many years of working together. These activities will tell you more about the other, but will also shed a light on how your team works together.
  • Activities and indoor tb games for work meetings. Discussing more serious content doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot play with the format of your meeting. Add or change just one ingredient and double the output of your work meetings!
  • Problem solving activities. You’ve probably played quite some problem solving games already. But can you still remember them? We’ve listed a few for you

A selection of 5-minute games and team building activities

Browse through the following five minute games and simple team building activities and decide for yourself what would work best for your team and for the phase that your team finds itself in. The following activities can be executed with both fresh new teams or those teams that already work with each other for years. In short, pick your flavor!

Quick and easy team building exercises & activities for small groups

  • Through another pair of eyes. Instead of having everybody introduce themselves, let the neighbouring team member introduce the other. First let everyone introduce themselves in pairs. Then make a quick round in which everyone is introduced to the group by somebody else.Tip Do people already know each other? Then throw in a fun question e.g. Your first memory of the nature? What would you do with a million? Or describe your grandmother. For sure you didn’t know this yet from each other!
  • The helium stick. One of the well-known and quick team building exercises! Make sure to obtain a helium stick, or otherwise a thin and light rod. Then let the attendees stand up, face each other, stretch their arms and point out the index fingers. Now put the stick on their fingers and instruct them to bring the stick together to the ground. Sounds easy? Just wait and see! This is one of the simple activities that works great for small groups.
  • Compliment carrousel. Put one or few team members in the midst of the room. Standing and with closed eyes. Now let the other team members pass by them 1 time and make them whisper a short compliment in their ears. Experience shows that receiving a compliment through a whisper, without knowing whom the compliment is coming from, can have a deep, touching impact. Depending on the impact, you can decide yourself how fast or not you’ll proceed with your regular meeting.

5 minute games for work meetings

  • Pitch the idea of your colleague. In corporate life we’re often used to give our own pitches. From a team building perspective it becomes more interesting if employees pitch each others ideas. Pick any of the more strategic meetings with your staff. Give a 1 time quick and clear instruction, already pre-meeting or at the very start of the meeting, and then let attendees interview each other about their idea for work [e.g. how to improve efficiency, which activities to set up in the coming year etc.]. Tip Use the easy audience response tool Sendsteps to vote for the best pitch and announce the winner!
  • Play a quiz. Maybe one of the more known 5 minute games for meetings, but playing a quiz already soon adds to a good vibe! Prepare yourself [or let others do so for you], an indoor quiz with 5-10 questions. Let everyone pick a space in the room that represents an answer. Every time an answer is false, employees will go and sit on the side. The rest proceeds until there’s only one winner left. Alternatively these fun games can also be easily played through a digital audience response tool.

Problem solving team building activities and scenarios

  • Describe and draw. Now here’s one of the simple but great problem solving activities. Hand a sheet with on it a pyramid, a circle and a rectangle. Ask one of the attendees to sit with their back towards the rest of the group. Now let individual attendees make a drawing based on what they are told to draw. The person describing the drawing cannot indicate the name of the shape and has to find creative other wording to get the message across. You’ll find that in the end everyone comes up with different scenarios. Have a short de-briefing and learn how everyone receives messages differently. What does it tell you about the communication within your team?
  • Paper Tower. Maybe one of the more known 5 minute games for meetings, but playing a quiz already soon adds to a good vibe! Prepare yourself [or let others do so for you], an indoor quiz with 5-10 questions. Let everyone pick a space in the room that represents an answer. Every time an answer is false, employees will go and sit on the side. The rest proceeds until there’s only one winner left. Alternatively these fun games can also be easily played through a digital audience response tool.

Problem solving exercises can be as simple as this. However, there are obviously more profound and thorough exercises out there. Next to that, as simple as the exercise might be, the more complex and constructive the actual analysis of it might be.

For managers, team building exercises are not only a great way to find out more about the team’s strengths and weaknesses, it is also a mean to show and build commitment and leadership with the team!

Important To find more exercises read our full and more comprehensive article about problem solving team building activities! Do you get the hang of it? Good luck and feel the team vibe growing!

About the author

Robert DaverschotChairman | Moderator | Sidekick

Robert is a professional moderator, dialogue facilitator and sidekick and works both independently and on behalf of Sendsteps audience response system. Robert has years of experience at home and abroad and has interviewed, ministers, captains of industry as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In his dealings with the audience, he always uses Sendsteps. With Sendsteps an audience is able to voice their opinions, whereby attendees can cast votes or send in open comments and questions to the speakers and panels on stage. As such events turn into 2.0 experiences with everyone being able to speak up!


 

A new generation of elderly care

How many people in Holland suffer from dementia?
What’s the name of the oldest person currently living?
What will you do when you parents cannot live independently anymore?
Imagine yourself. You just took a seat in the conference venue and these questions are fired at you. It helps to know that the conference is about elderly care.
As a matter of fact, “A New Generation Elderly [Care]” is Holland’s largest conference for elderly and professionals from the elderly care. This event attracts more than 1000 attendees, hosts 80 speakers and covers different subjects during several plenary- and sub sessions. By kicking off with these intriguing questions, the audience was immediately hooked onto the conference subject.

How “audience profiling” benefits both speaker and audience

One of the goals of the organizers was to come up with an interactive event program. Not for the sake of it, but to zoom in on attendees their experiences and knowledge. As such, speakers were able to relate to what the audience indicated to be important. Next to that they could as well relate to the audience their knowledge level. Now, with 1000 attendees it isn’t easy to let everyone speak up. However, with the above questions [and few more], the event could kick off with drawing a clear audience profile.

A coverage of the event “A New Generation of Elderly [Care]” [Dutch]

A powerful event kick-off

Upon the start of the conference, straight after the welcome of the moderator Robbert Huijsman, a number of so-called profiling questions was asked to the audience [a few as formulated at the beginning of this article]. The audience could reply and vote through the Sendsteps audience response system. The dialogue with the audience was supported by a professional sidekick [Robert Daverschot] who dealt with the live audience feedback [received via Sendsteps on his iPad] and who also took care of the audience polling during short intermezzos throughout the day. The moderator and his sidekick kicked off by asking the audience a short set of questions that combined the ingredients ‘knowledge’, ‘personal’ and ‘entertainment’;
  • “Knowledge” to get to know a bit more about what attendees already know or not. On asking, “how many people suffer from dementia in Holland?’, 53% of the attendees were right by choosing answer option “D] 2500.000-300.000”. The chairman then explained that the exact right answer was 270.000. He also gave the audience a little more background information and he mentioned as well the source of the information.
  • “Personal” to find out how attendees are personally involved in the matter. On asking, “what will you do when your parents cannot live independently anymore?”, 31% answered that the parents would be taken care of in an elderly home. 26% answered they would be taken care of in a private care center. With these and more statistics, the more serious side of the conference subject was underlined, whereby the data had an impact in the sense that it would influence onward discussions here and there, throughout the day.
  • “Entertainment” to have a laugh and to create a relaxed vibe. On asking “who is the oldest person still living on earth?”, 59% answered correctly. That is, answer “C] Nabi Tajiama from Japan” with 117 years of age. Earlier that morning the moderator and sidekick figured out who was the oldest person in the audience. When they returned back to her, the attendee [83] had to laugh saying that “she felt young again”!

How you can profile your next audience?

So how to come up with profiling questions for your next audience? It’s simple. Decide what you would like to know from your crowd. In such a way that the results on the presentation screens are relevant for the attendees, for your speakers and for the organization;

For the audience it is nice to know with whom you are surrounded with for the rest of the event day – to know what to discuss over lunch, or what better not to touch upon. Just as the disclosed results are interesting for the crowd, it also helps your speakers. They now know how fast they can explain something and what to skip in their storyline. Finally, the organization can grab a conference as a chance for a market research; which information will help us further in our product development or the setup of our services? Now is the chance to get a better understanding!

Use your kick off cleverly, and start from the very first minute to involve your audience. Formulate interesting questions, use them at the kick off or spread them throughout the day and get the vibe going. Time well spent, and which pays off throughout the rest of your conference program! So, what would you like to know from your audience?

About the author

Robert Daverschot: Robert is a professional moderator, dialogue facilitator and sidekick and works both independently and on behalf of Sendsteps audience response system. Robert has years of experience at home and abroad and has interviewed, ministers, captains of industry as well as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In his dealings with the audience, he always uses Sendsteps. With Sendsteps an audience is able to voice their opinions, whereby attendees can cast votes or send in open comments and questions to the speakers and panels on stage. As such events turn into 2.0 experiences with everyone being able to speak up!

 

Types of audience in presentation and public speaking

Types of audiences in presentation and public speaking


Launching your message. Making sure it not only reaches many people their minds, but also their hearts. It is a marketer’s challenge to get a message across – to let it resonate with the listener: be it in print, on the Web or through any other form of media. Public speaking however is often a form of communication that lacks the professional marketing attention. Presentations are often made by ourselves, on a late evening, alone, isolated in one’s cocoon, and without the support of a critical colleague. Some of us even getting lost in the design of PowerPoint slides.

Yet, a little more awareness about the different types of audiences in a presentation can already make a significant difference. It makes it easier to boast your persuasive speaking and to reach your target [audience]. In this blog we’ll therefore address the question:

“How to relate to your audience in the best way?”

how-it-looks-during-a-real-life-event

This immediately raises the question; What’s the role of your audience, as a group and as individuals, and in what context are they listening to your presentation? In marketing plans a primary audience, a secondary audience and even tertiary audiences are defined to predict and measure the impact of a message. These different ‘layers’ relate to how far your message will end up. That is, beyond the venue in which you give your presentation. As it is already challenging enough to relate to your primary audience, we’ll therefore will stick to this group [but when you’re a frequent speaker – you might want to dive into these theories].

Based on example[s] we’ll take a tour along different crowds that are potential listeners to your story. From uninformed [audience] to subject experts and from students to board members. Based on your audience analysis, which you’ll notice almost is a psychological analysis, you’ll be able to make smaller and larger strategic decisions with regards to your presentation. For instance on questions like:

  • Is there some sort or hierarchy in the group that needs to be addressed?
  • Are there any cultural differences to take into account?
  • How formal or informal do I address my attendees?
  • Will attendees respond anonymous or non-anonymous to my questions?
  • How do I create a sense of safety with help of my room setup?

Just like a professional marketer; find out who is listening, twist and tweak your story or even make radical changes and leave a lasting impression with your audience!

Types of audiences in different types of communication

A presentation always carries a message and a trigger to some sort of action. You might want to entertain, inform or instruct people or maybe you want to sell something:

presentation

In presentation.

  • As a speaker you carry authority based on your specific achievements, knowledge or based on a specific social status which your audience doesn’t have [yet]. This makes you and your presentation unique and it’s the reason why you are given the floor for your presentation;
  • Authority however, in whatever form has a certain energetic impact on an audience. There’s never a complete neutral attitude of the audience towards you and your story. People can be a big fan of your ideas or they can almost be hostile towards them. This can already start with how you’re being anounced during an event or within an event program. It’s important to be aware of this;
  • It helps to ask a short set of live questions to your audience. To sense their energy, to relate to their knowledge level and to get a better demographic/psychological analysis and understanding. You can do so by asking people to sit or stand up as a mean to reply to your question, or they can cast votes through an audience response system. This will help you to define the types of audiences in presentation. Plus, it is interesting for the attendees themselves too. Be aware that in certain cultures it might be a bit exciting to answer live questions from somebody higher in the hierarchy [e.g. in parts of Asia]. In such a case anonymous voting already helps to lower a barrier for an audience to give authentic feedback. Discover on the spot how your attendees relate to your topic and as such finetune your onward story. Speak with authority or maybe temper it somewhat – sense from the first minute how the rest of your story can have a smooth landing!

In public speaking, persuasive speaking; The Parent-Adult-Child Model

  • A platform with a speaker and an attendee in an audience, easily triggers the resemblance with a parent telling something to his or her child. During public speaking, a neutral [audience] approach is almost impossible. Therefore the understanding of the Parent-Adult-Child model, a psychological model, can help you to further gain insight in your persuasive speaking style;
  • The model implies that every person carries three characteristics within oneself: a Parent, an Adult and a Child. None of the roles is right or wrong, but in the very moment one role can be more effective than the other. A boss presenting to its employees, can easily be recognized as a Parent talking to a Child. Being aware of this analysis, can for instance help to adjust your tone more to an Adult, which also triggers the Adult character within the audience. Or more concrete: as a boss don’t tell employees what to do or what not to do, but address their own capacities and create a sense of empowerment instead.You can turn this into a live action by asking the audience: “How would you solve this?”. Let attendees discuss with their neighbour, to create ownership within the audience, and let them reply live or anonymous. After that, reflect on the input and give your idea maybe not as the solution, but as a suggestion. You’ll notice that analyzing the types of audiences, letting them play a role in your story, often results in a more well-received story and it supports your persuasive speaking.

Dealing with uninformed audience

Once you know better who your audience is and once you’re more aware of how you’re being perceived as a speaker, then relate your contribution to the right Parent-Adult-Child character and address a yet uninformed audience. From there the form and tone of your presentation develops almost automatically and strategic choices flow more natural:

presentation
  • Less hierarchy? Do you want to prevent being perceived too much as an authority? Then take away the lectern to stand behind. Or leave the stage completely and stand in the middle of the room. Instead of your audience sitting in rows, seat them around you in a circle on an equal height. Almost as having a cat walk. Do you sense that actually more authority might help your message, then of course make use of that lectern, stage and seating in rows.
  • Safe environment? Do you want to take away an unsafe feeling [e.g. when discussing personal or very strategic subjects]? Use an audience response system and allow students, business relations, members or employees to reply to questions anonymous. The use of such a tool also allows an online audience to participate in your presentation and discussion. During brainstorms for instance, it requires a lot of trust to share an idea. Plus you also like to foster creativity [the Child role!] in a group, so  the use of anonymous replies can help building an energy of trust. At the end of the session you might not even need a tool anymore, simply because everyone will feel safe and will start to share freely annd happily!

Because of your knowledge about the audience now, some of these choices can be made so much easier. You’ll be able to tailor your story better to the crowd and its dynamics. Taking some time to figure this out, will help you to deliver a story that won’t be forgotten easily! In short, you’ll leave a lasting impression! So, what do you know about your audience?


 

Audience activities during presentation

Interactive Audience Activities & Games to Play During Presentation

In ancient Greece – the word catharsis was used for the emotional bond between actor and audience. Wouldn’t one say that when it comes to presenting nowadays, catharsis didn’t evolve that much? We still look for ideas and activities during presentation to thrive engagement. So yes, in that sense not much has changed. But it has been only in recent years that we transformed from a 1.0 to a 2.0 society; The stage doesn’t only belong to actors, but also to the audience.

They aren’t any longer spectators only, they are also contributors. And this explains the importance of audience activities during presentation. Neuroscientists at Harvard found that talking about ourselves gives similar satisfying signals as money and food give us. Games to play, activities whereby attendees share personal experiences; it all contributes to an interactive experience. Not only that, when we’re able to foster the exchange of experiences and knowledge, then we also develop ourselves as individuals and organizations. So let’s zoom in on a number of audience participation ideas:

  • Games. Fun elements during your meeting;
  • Exercises. Creative formats that support knowledge and experience exchange;
  • Other activities. Other forms of audience activities during your presentation.

Audience participation ideas

Depending on the theme of your presentation, how formal or informal the setting is and how much time you have, there are several ideas out there to apply during your next presentation. Ask yourself during your preparation to what extend you still like to spend time on your PowerPoint, or whether you’d rather prepare for strong engagement activities?

  • Games | Cross the Line. “Cross the line” is a format known from “Challenge Day” whereby attendees are asked to stand, based on their answer [yes/no] on a question, either left or right from the room. With it differences are made visible and in the end sensible too. As such it can be one of the engagement games that have a big impact; either in a fun way or in a serious way. It will evoke laughter, recognition, surprise and a tear every now and then.
  • Ideas for questions are. “Who wanted to become a doctor when you were little?”, “Who was ever bullied at work?” or “Who prefers a city trip over a beach holiday?”. Based on your topic, you formulate your own questions. Serious or light. The audience generates the content of your session. Full participation is guaranteed: no one can stay in the middle. Your role is to facilitate the dialogue, ask questions and steer the conversation towards the goals of your meeting. Because of everyone’s participation and the physical movement, you’ll for sure end up with a conversation that will stick to people’s mind.

  • Activities. There are many audience activities to think of when it comes to letting your audience speak up. In these three activities you’ll find back elements that will make your session personal allowing everyone to share their thoughts:
    1. Bring it on. Ask your attendees in advance to bring a small personal item. During your session you let everyone [with a small group] elaborate on why the item is important to them. Alternatively you can do the same by asking your audience to bring a song along. This is a perfect activity to facilitate personal introductions within a group [e.g. upon the start of a new course].
    2. Fishbowl Discussion. In a fishbowl discussion there are two groups. One forms an outer circle and one group is seated in the middle. Only those located in the middle are allowed to talk. In the inner circle there’s always a free seat available. If someone from the outer circle likes to join, then the free seat is his/hers and somebody else should make space. You’ll therefore find that everyone’s contribution is very conscious and therefore often valuable. Everyone realizes that time spend in the inner circle is valuable: questions and contributions are to the point and well-thought over. Reflections from the outer circle can be send in digitally and used for a plenary feedback session straight after the Fishbowl Discussion.
    3. The Talking Stick. The talking stick is an old Native American custom of talking. Upon the start of this activity, everyone should agree that whoever has the talking stick, is allowed to talk without interruption. It’s similar to the Fishbowl Discussion, but with the talking stick it’s not a group, but an individual talking. The talking stick can be any item, as long as it is neutral and not related to anyone in the group. Each time somebody is done talking, the talking stick should be put back in the midst of the group [and should not be handed over to somebody]. It maybe sounds simple, but in practice this is a powerful method of creating deep communication and understanding.

  • Exercises. Next to games and other activities, these exercises also contribute to a lively presentation!
    1. Knowledge Quiz. Before and straight after your presentation you can quiz your audience about your topic through Sendsteps Audience Response System. Be it solar energy, hotel management or 20th century art; formulate interesting multiple choice questions. Via Sendsteps you can add questions to your PowerPoint slide and from there the audience can respond. Track who replied what, plus see the score and announce a winner. All that your audience needs is a smartphone and everyone is ready to go!
    2. Set The Agenda. In your event program, you can leave part of the program blank. In it you eventually let your audience decide what to discuss. Upon the start of your session you let your audience form small groups. Give them a relevant question and use the output [which they can send in via Sendsteps] for a plenary discussion during your blank program item. From the output you can formulate statements that can result in a lively ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ debate. Or alternatively invite adhoc a speaker to elaborate on the output. If you’re able to be this flexible, you’ll amaze your crowd with tailoring exclusively to their needs!

Remember those Harvard scientists? Now you have concrete tools that will help you to setup an engaging presentation that will trigger the same effect as money and food; an audience that can talk about itself will easily experience satisfaction. A win-win situation for everyone!


 

How to keep an audience engaged during a presentation

How to keep an audience engaged during a presentation

Did you ever think of your presentation as a first time date? Imagine – it’s really not that different. Upfront you are busy with what to wear, what to say and especially what not to say. You don’t need an awful lot of dating experience to know that in the end a date always goes different than expected. But nevertheless, we often feel we can never do without a proper mental preparation.

It requires a similar approach to keep an audience engaged during a presentation. And to steal their hearts. When you aim for an interactive and inspiring presentation, then attention to many details is needed. In this article we explain you more on how to keep audience engaged during presentation.

We do so based on these questions – how to engage your audience:

  • … during public speaking assessments?
  • … through the use of games?
  • … through the use of PowerPoint during presentation?
  • … by facilitating fulll audience participation during presentations?

How to engage an audience in public speaking

Every speaker is different, each story carries a different energy and each time an audience changes; that is in size, in experience and in culture. Many ingredients influence the course of your public speaking performance.

Yet, here are some basics that are universal and yet powerful to be aware of:

  • Start personal. Make the stage and the vibe yours. Share something personal and from there build the bridge to your theme. By doing so, you relate to your personal drive and motivation and you give context to your story. This makes it easier for an audience to engage with your topic and to understand the bigger picture.
  • Know your audience.When in a restaurant with your date – you don’t start talking out of the blue. By knowing the other, it helps to find the right tone, to underline similar shared experiences and to create mutual understanding. Ask a few questions to individual attendees before starting your presentation. Or conduct a short pre-event survey and use the input for your presentation. People often aren’t interested in speeches, but they do like an inspiring conversation instead.
  • Treat time as precious. When given a time slot of 30 minutes – use 25. No matter how interesting your presentation is, spare time is often considered as a little present. But how to use time in other valuable ways? From a more strategic angle you can use time to underline your message; Take a 3-8 seconds pause before telling the really important part. Even the worst smartphone addicts will pay attention now. It might feel awkward in the beginning, but then notice the impact, you’ll get the hang of it!

Games to engage audience during presentation

A game element during a presentation requires that you’re in tune with the vibe of your event. A game can make or break it. The more serious the topic, the less inviting it is to go ‘out-of-the-box’, let alone to get funny. Then again, if you know how to introduce it with confidence and flair, then you might get your crowd on the edge of their chairs!

  • Games to engage an audience. The most popular games to play are often quizzes. Through the use of audience response systems [like Sendsteps], you can easily setup a digital quiz. As such you can quickly see the scores are and there’s no unclarity about the winner. Add a timer for each question and a little background music to get the quiz buzz going!

    As for the quiz itself: relate the multiple choice questions to trivia to keep it light or make it more interesting and dive into your subject. Add a little product placement [clever when sponsors are involved] and the winner leaves the venue with a nice price from the organization or the sponsor!

  • Fun ways to engage an audience. Next to a quiz, there are other ways to keep people’s attention during presentation and meetings. Here are some ideas and fun ways (to engage):
    1. Pre-recorded video interview. Before your event, script an interview and then record it with yourself and imitate someone popular or interview somebody else. When live on stage, show the video and ask the scripted questions and let the person on the video reply. Show your creative side and imagine how hilarious this can turn out!
    2. Build a Wordcloud. Through the use of an audience response system you can start building a live wordcloud with your audience. Ask for everyone’s participation and let attendees send in a one-word reply to a fun question. “What did you want to become when you were 10 years old?”, “Who would you like to spend a coffee with?”.
    3. Play Live Music. Surprisingly music is not often an ingredient of a corporate event, or part of a presentation. But why not? It’s a nice neutralizer in the midst of all the content shared. And it opens the mind for any of your ideas shared in your upcoming presentation.
  • Creative activities to engage an audience. Apart from single event ingredients, like a word cloud or a quiz, you can also work with a sidekick. A person who constantly monitors the sentiment within the audience. As attendees cast votes, send in remarks or ask questions [through their smartphone]; the sidekick is the first person to see all of that coming in. On scripted or spontaneous moments, he puts forward the most intriguing contributions.

    Not only does it help the chairman for orchestrating the audience response better, it also adds a nice dynamic throughout the event program. Attendees feel heard, can respond with honest thoughts and you’ll be sure that based on your audience input that you’ll get to the core. The role of sidekick can be executed by a professional sidekick or by somebody from the own organization. Be aware that this requires good skills in terms of listening and simultaneously scanning large volumes of incoming content, plus presenting skills for bringing the content forward lively and clear.

How to engage audience in powerpoint presentation

As much as PowerPoint can have a negative connotation, it still is the most used presentation tool worldwide. Some people can lose themselves in the preparations, some feel safer using it and others pull of a great performance. So how to come up with a presentation that will engage your audience and foster participation?

Here are some ideas to play with:

  • Less is more. Challenge yourself and write as little as possible on your slides. Or simply skip all text and make use of images instead. Spend your time on browsing powerful images, rather than on formulating clever texts. Are you planning on using video? Make sure to test it before and in the venue itself again!
  • Ask for feedback. Although a presentation itself can be rehearsed with somebody giving you feedback, this might be a time consuming project for you or at least the other. Still, if you have the chance – why not! But spreading your PowerPoint around with a few of your colleagues or peers: that’s an easy task with almost always some valuable input!
  • Ask for feedback. Although a presentation itself can be rehearsed with somebody giving you feedback, this might be a time consuming project for you or at least the other. Still, if you have the chance – why not! But spreading your PowerPoint around with a few of your colleagues or peers: that’s an easy task with almost always some valuable input!

Make a presentation interactive

With help of Sendsteps audience response system you’ll bring your presentation to a new level: an interactive one!

  • How to make presentation interactive? The quickest and best way to use Sendsteps is to add a number of multiple choice questions. Use it as an icebreaker, or test your crowd’s knowledge or make an audience profile based on a number of profiling questions.

    Or do you dare to let attendees respond openly through their smartphone? Enable the audience to voice their opinion, to raise questions and to share ideas. Either allow all responses directly on the presentation screen, or filter messages through your tablet or smartphone and from there assign a selection to the screen. The mix of open content and polling will result in a lively session! Click here to watch a short tutorial and get yourself going!

  • Interactive presentation ideas for college? How to get a conversation going in larger classes? For interactive college ideas you’ll quickly notice how Sendsteps can help you mobilizing an entire class. Without singling out any of your students – even not the quiet ones.

    Use the open question “what do you expect from today’s course?”, let students come up with associations on a theme and put it in a live wordcloud, play a quiz based on the discussed content or let one of the students be sidekick on behalf of the class. Dare to experiment and to design your class slightly different. With it you’ll see that there’s more to asking “are there any other questions”!

We’re curious to hear more about your upcoming presentation! Reach out and let us think along with you – we like to see you shine on stage and steel the audience their hearts!


How to build trust in the workplace

How to build trust in the workplace by having better meetings

In business, the word ‘trust’ can easily be perceived as a hallow term. It can be difficult to grasp the real meaning of it. Trust might not be easy to quantify, but everyone will agree that it is worth spending time and resources on. British employee engagement specialist Susan Jacobs, known from the Jacobs Model, defined the following 8 drivers of trust on the work floor:

  1. A sense of belonging: the feeling of an employee being part of a team
  2. Voice and recognition: the possibility to speak up and have a say in decision making
  3. Significance and position: the extent to which an employee feels valued
  4. Equal treatment: the understanding that everyone is treated equally
  5. Learn and experiment: the experience of being able to experiment, make mistakes and learn
  6. Choice and autonomy: the empowerment to make individual choices for the organization
  7. Security and certainty: the sense of being save due to confidence in the team
  8. Purpose: the understanding of how an individual contributes to the whole

Creating Trust | How to organize business meetings?

At Sendsteps we often relate to trust, since the audience interaction tool is used in settings where trust is such an important ingredient: during all kind of meetings. Think of team building exercises, strategic board room sessions or shareholder meetings. Clients often ask us questions on how to:

  • … encourage an open dialogue
  • … address anonymous feedback
  • … be certain of data security

Before answering these questions, it helps to get a better understanding of the different roles and characteristics of your individual team members. What is their influence on trust within the team? Obviously, there are many ways of looking into this. At Sendsteps there are a few perspectives that we believe give an interesting view on trust within your team. We cover three aspects;

  1. Karen Stephenson’s theory on trust within office networks. Her theory helps us understand how trust steers information flows within an organization.
  2. A second aspect is that of introvert and extravert team members and how both have different influences on the experience of trust within a team.
  3. And finally, the stage for trust, namely the actual work floor, is of influence for creating a safe and positive atmosphere. We’ll discuss the so-called “open workspace”.

Creating Trust | The roles team members play

Karen Stephenson is an American professor and corporate anthropologist who does research into “the anatomy of networks”. Stephenson especially focusses on how information flows within a network. For instance, she helped U.S. Defense to identify the weak spots and key connections of the Al Qaeda terrorist network. But her research covers all kinds of networks: from family, to social, to office networks. With it she contributes to a better sense of community and even helps to monetize trust. In her theory, Stephenson defines three roles that are present within every team and that dictate how information flows [or not, with a lack of trust!]. Keep your own organization in mind, when reflecting on the following roles:

  • Hubs: The hubs are the social butterflies of your team. They know a lot of people, are talkative by nature and bring people together. Tell something to a hub and soon everyone will know.
  • Gatekeepers: The gatekeepers play an important role in passing on information to a next level or to block it. They can either use or abuse power.
  • Pulse takers: The pulse takers can be found on the edges of the network. They might not be the center of attention, yet they have sufficient overview, and enough relationships to get a good sense of the picture.
Karen Stephenson claims that innovative companies have a large sense of trust. There are many connections between the individual team members.

3 tips to make clever use of different team roles:

So what to do with this information in regard to your office meetings?

  1. Define the roles in your team: Take a minute and think of your colleagues: who is a typical hub? Could John be a pulse taker? Let it be clear that these roles are informal and not necessarily related to function levels [e.g. a receptionist can be more of gatekeeper than a CFO].When exploring these roles within your team, it might not come as a surprise that most of the speaking time is consumed by hubs. Now think of all the pulse takers among your meeting attendees; actively engage them by asking them questions, or by letting them pitch ideas.
  2. Spend a team session on roles: Why not spend a team session on defining these roles together with your team? It can be interesting to do so, because the knowledge of these three roles can be a strategic tool for controlling and building the communication within your team.With a clear team awareness about everyone’s role, you might find a new dynamic in your meetings and group interaction. Do gatekeepers speak up more easily? Can hubs count to 10 before replying? Make it a little challenge and see what happens. Experimenting is the first step towards innovation!
  3. Rethink your internal and external communication activities; communicating change traditionally is executed by the communication professionals within your team [hubs]. But in some occasions, there might be other colleagues in the office network that have a much stronger, strategic position within the network [pulse takers for instance]. Can you think of someone else to do the next communication job?

Creating Trust | Introvert and extravert employees

The next trust aspect we’d like to explore is the difference between extravert and introvert team members. Whereas extraverts can often be found in the role of “hub”, introverts are typical “pulse takers”. Let’s zoom in on our introvert employees – one out of two or three of our colleagues!

Introversion is easily mistaken by shyness. But be aware, “introversion is more about how you respond to stimulation, including social stimulation”, says Susan Cain [an American writer, speaker and former Wall Street lawyer]. Introverts are quietly listening and reflecting. They need time to answer. They like substance over chitchat. They’re often overlooked during a meeting or even on a broader scale; when a new management position needs to be fulfilled. Yet, introverts create brilliant work, are thoughtful leaders and only speak during meetings when things are overthought. But, also here; trust is essential in the communication between both groups. Extraverts trusting the work of introverts and vice versa.

4 tips to engage extravert and introverts during meetings:

When organizing a meeting, keep in mind both type of employees and create a setting where both experience trust;

  1. Don’t rush: Take time for your meeting, but stick to the point. Rather spread a longer meeting over two dates, rather than quickly skimming over agenda items in order to fit them in.
  2. Introduce think breaks: Let attendees have a think-break, so that everyone can process information before answering;
  3. Limit group work: “Stop the madness for constant group work” [as Susan Cain puts it] – quality can also come from solo time and activities. There isn’t always a “need to discuss in pairs”!
  4. Facilitate follow up: Organize a clear follow up; what will be discussed, will be further investigated and processed? Introverts, especially, appreciate their input being taken seriously.

Creating Trust | Open or closed workspaces?

Did you know that 70% of all U.S. offices use open workspaces? Since the mid 2000’s the concept was introduced by many Silicon Valley companies. There are many advantages to having an open workspace. The most important being stronger collaboration. Yet, there are also critical remarks to be made.

In 2005 Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear from the University of Sydney conducted extensive research into differences in employee experiences between those working in an open workspace and those working in private offices. They compared 303 offices. Noise, disruption and sound privacy were the most frequent mentioned negative experiences in open workspaces. At the same time, the ease of interaction was valued most. Interestingly, that aspect was not experienced differently by private office workers.

In short and according to the researchers, the open workspaces are not necessarily the engines of collaboration. For extravert hubs it might work better than it does for introvert pulsetakers. Don’t forget also that the currency of friendship is sharing confidence. Funny enough, this is less easy to achieve in an open workspace. So, it seems there’s no one-size fits all and it comes down to finding what works best for your team.

4 tips to engage with your team in different office spaces

When you want to foster interaction in your team then an open workspace seems like the logical step. Yet, when keeping in mind all the different roles we discussed [introverts, extraverts, hubs, gatekeepers and pulsetakers], you’ll need to do some clever thinking of your floor plan so that everyone feels comfortable and experiences the trust to share or to work quietly;

  1. Spread seats for different roles: Seat your hubs in the middle, then your gatekeepers and let the relatively more quiet spaces belong to the pulsetakers.
  2. Create your quiet spaces: A place to focus, to maybe even re-charge; ready for more and better interaction! Solitude is a crucial ingredient for productivity.
  3. Go out! Studies show that business trips boast creativity, social cohesion and interaction in the team.

Conclusion | Meetings with trust

When there’s trust in the workplace, there’s trust to connect. Space for positive team member relationships from where innovative ideas are born. Keep in mind your team’s DNA and in what kind of setting they feel most trusted. Foster a culture where it is good to ask questions and keep it personal. To make it a bit more concrete:

  • Discuss statements [agree/disagree] in which the word “I” is used. E.g. “I believe our team communication style is effective”. Give your introvert team members a think break, let your gatekeepers speak up.
  • Facilitate anonymous feedback to get to the core. Sometimes it doesn’t matter who says what, but the fact that an issue is addressed by itself is positive. Don’t ask “who said that?”, but ask “who likes to elaborate on this issue”? Maybe initiate such a talk during a team field trip – in a relaxed setting.
  • In very strategic meetings it is helpful to know that anonymous is anonymous. Sendsteps technology is ISO compliant and used by Fortune500 companies because of its data security settings.

In short, cultivate an atmosphere where employees’ questions come from a desire to grow and learn. As employer, you can create a perfect setting with proper insight in factors that build trust and with the intention to grow and innovate as a team. Meetings that express trust!