Possible functions for an application to support and improve meeting management

Whether we like it or not, it is becoming increasingly common to use a laptops and mobile devices in face-to-face meetings. I am interested in exploring how the availability of these devices might provide new ways of organising the meeting process and facilitating interactions in meetings. In particular, I see some potential for the collective (self-)management of meetings. What I have in mind is a web-based application that meeting participants would open on their devices and which would add an additional layer of communication to the meeting and the question is then: how can this digital communication channel be used.

A simple example, which is already possible and which I have seen people use in their meetings is a shared google document in which all participants can take notes (and comment on each other’s notes). Another example is that some participants use Skype, SMS or some other chat channel to communicate privately during the meeting (“whispering”). Some people have taken this as far as having “silent meetings” where most or all communication takes place through the digital channel. But what else is there between those two extremes of private chat-use between a few participants and collective chat use that basically replaces verbal communication?

During the coming days, I will post some more ideas (most of which are not yet possible with existing applications) of what kind of functions have become possible with the omnipresence of digital technology and I will link those posts below. I’d be curious what you think of them and whether you have any other ideas. (As with any technology, each of these also has it’s down sides, but in order to not make this post too long, I am focusing on the benefits here.)

This post is now a Wiki, which means that it is editable for others, so if you post your own idea below, you can edit this post and add a link to your post to the list.


Automated stack: participants could simply register their wish to speak via the press of a button in the app.


  • participants can fully focus on the discussion instead of trying to get the facilitators or stack-keeper’s attention in order to be added to the list of speakers
  • The list of speakers would be transparent to all participants, thus helping them to gauge how much time each speaker realistically has, given the total time available
  • stack-keeping rules could be implemented automatically, such as a gendered list of speakers or other quota rules, such as giving privilege to speakers who have not yet spoken on the topic.

Time economies: allocate a specified amount of speaking time to each participant before the meeting (e.g. duration of the meeting divided by number of participants) and allow participants to donate minutes to other speakers who used all their time but have something important to say (if nobody is willing to donate an extra minute or two, it was obviously not important enough. Or the meeting time is simply used up).


  • participants become more aware of the limited time available in the meeting and will prioritise what they really need to say
  • endless monologues by certain people are no longer possible, unless many people want to hear them (or if certain people receive extra time from the start)

Gamification: for example by allowing participants to provide positive feedback to other participants (similar to liking a post on Facebook or “kudos” in some online communities). Depending on the group’s preferences or organizational policy, these tokens of appreciations could be awarded in private (reassuring participants of the value of their contributions) or visible for all participants (increasing the participant’s reputation).


  • meetings can easily be dominated by the most vocal participants while important contributions may be less prominent, leaving the producer of such contribution uncertain (or even giving a negative impression) about the value of what they said. This can be somewhat counterbalanced through low threshold “likes”.
  • If the total number of likes (or average likes per meeting) is made public in an organization, members of the organization have an incentive to make valued contributions in order to obtain recognition.

Audio-snippets (documentation): at the press of a button, a recording of the last x minutes of the meeting is saved and made available to participants after the meeting).


  • instead of frantically scribbling down a great idea that someone just mentioned, individual participants could just tap a button to save what was just said.
  • sometimes people behave inappropriately in a meeting but even though we notice, we do not raise the issue because it would disrupt the meeting (and in the end it might be us who are accused of wrong doing). That way, people repeatedly get away with misconduct or, if we mention it to them after the meeting, they deny that the accusations are accurate. Audio-snippets could be used as a way of showing people how they behave. These snippets could be sent to that person anonymously and without anybody else’s knowledge, thus avoiding shaming and defence reflexes.
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Mood-meter: throughout the meeting, participants can anonymously register their positive or negative mood. If the average mood drops below a given threshold, the application warns the facilitator/everyone in the group that something is going wrong. A more generic version of this function would be a form of continuous voting, for example for taking a break (whoever would welcome a break, registers this and when a certain threshold is reached, people are notified about that).


  • Helps to avoid situations where the majority of the group is unhappy with the ongoing activity but everyone remains quiet and tags along because they believe everyone else is happy (the so called Abilene paradox).

Feedback during presentations: some meetings include presentations or lengthy reports after which there is an opportunity for Q&A. A meeting support app would allow participants to type their questions and comments already during the presentation so that when the presentation ends, there is already a list of items to deal with.


  • The advantage is that if there is not enough time to discuss them all, the presenter can consider them after the meeting and possibly respond directly.
  • Another advantage would be that these comments could be anonymous, thus encouraging critical feedback and avoiding group think.

This function already exists in some GDSS applications and it could even be improvised by using a shared google document. But I think it’s worth mentioning here anyway.

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This could be helpful, thanks. I would generally want to give two appreciations to sandwich any negative feedback, even in a business situation. I do that even if I sometimes wish a person didn’t attend. It helps my heart, and sometimes helps theirs, and thereby all of us.