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Building a MeetingSphere Agenda

Technically a MeetingSphere Agenda means the workspaces that sit in the Meeting dashboard. The simplest possible Agenda contains just one workspace, for instance, a Brainstorm workspace for creating and, if so, categorizing a list of ideas or opinions or facts. If you want to prioritize the results of the brainstorm,for instance, identify the most promising ideas or most important facts, you'd add a Rating workspace. If you'd then want to discuss the outcome of the rating, for example, why top scoring ideas are promising or facts are important, or what follows, or why you cannot agree on certain items, you'd add a Discussion.

Put simply, an Agenda describes the collaborative steps you want to take to produce the results you require. The first step depends on where you are. For instance, if you already have a set of ideas/opinions/suggestions/proposals/facts (whatever) you may want to start with rating them. The last step depends on the outcome you need from this group in this meeting. For instance, if prioritization is all you need then the process may start and end with a single Rating workspace. If you need to drill into the results, understand the why and what you may want to add a Discussion. And so on.

If you are shooting for different outcomes in one meeting, for instance, generate and prioritize some ideas on how to improve your company's car policy and discuss the impact of regulatory changes on what you do you may want to separate these different agenda items by a section. You can plan breaks and reserve time for other activities such as a screen share by adding appropriately named time buffers.

Enable 'time agenda' in the Basic tab of meeting settings, if you want MeetingSphere to help you with the timing of your work.

1 Adding workspaces

Add workspaces to the Agenda with the 'plus' toolbar button . The selected 'workspace item' appears directly, ready for configuration. You can, of course, continue to add workspaces and then configure them.

The idea is that you configure workspaces initially in the dashboard. You'll find further settings in the workspaces if you need them.

1.1 Initial configuration of a Brainstorm workspace

Add a Brainstorm workspace to generate a list of ideas, opinions or facts and sort the results into folders.

A Brainstorming session is defined by the question you ask. Consequently a newly added Brainstorm item prompts you to specify that question. If unsure, click 'Examples' for a set of typical questions to ask when looking for ideas, opinions or facts. Pick an example from the list and adapt it for your purpose.

The brainstorming question is all that's needed. Enter the Brainstorm workspace and review its settings, perhaps adding a more detailed instruction, after you have completed the overall agenda.

1.2 Initial configuration of a Discussion workspace

Add a Discussion workspace to let your group discuss one or several topics.

In the Agenda, you merely determine the instruction. If the topics are phrased - or can be understood - as questions, you can keep this pretty generic as in, 'Please discuss the topics (or questions) below'. If your topics are, for instance, a set of problems, or possible solutions or ideas, you may want to discuss them from a specific perspective for a specific purpose. In such a case, your question could be something like,

  • 'What causes this problem? And what causes those causes?' or
  • 'How would this solution work? Under what conditions?" or
  • 'Why is this idea promising?' or
  • 'Why can't we agree on the importance of this?'

Click on 'Examples' to get a feel for this. Review your instruction after you've entered the topics you want to discuss.

1.3 Initial configuration of a Presentation workspace

Add a Presentation workspace push information to the group and get feedback.

In the Agenda, you merely set the title of the presentation which, by default is set to 'Slide show'.

Enter the workspace to upload presentation files and configure the discussion. You can also change the presentation mode to "Screen sharing" or "Other presentation tool".

1.4 Initial configuration of a Rating

Add a Rating sheet to have your group assess a list of items.

Rating differs from workspaces by consisting of multiple linked workspaces i.e. initially the Rating sheet and the Results table. For a graphic interpretation of the results, you can select the Results table and add a Results chart from the toolbar's 'plus' menu.

In the Agenda, you only configure the Rating sheet as this determines the initial configuration also of the Results table and, if so, chart.

The functionality of Rating is split across multiple workspaces to

Initial configuration of the Rating sheet consists of selecting the rating method and the criterion by which items shall be rated:

  • pick a rating methods are available from that drop down menu
  • enter a criterion such as 'importance' or 'urgency'. If unsure, click 'Examples'.

The initial rating question is determined automatically by your pick of rating method and criterion following the pattern of "Please rate by [criterion]." Rate method and criterion also the initial configuration of the Results table and, if so, chart.

Enter the Rating sheet to refine or replace this default instruction by something more elegant. In the workspace, you can also add a detailed instruction and verbalize scale values.

You must, of course, add rate items. Often these are only generated in the meeting, for instance, by a preceding brainstorming and copied to the Rating sheet just in time.

1.5 Extend a Rating for Multi-criteria analysis

To extend a regular rating on a single criterion to a Multi-criteria analysis, mark up that rating in the Agenda and add another Rating sheet via the 'Plus' menu of the toolbar and confirm that you want to extend the rating.

Multi-criteria analysis allows you to rate the same list of items on multiple criteria. It adds

  • a Multi-criteria results table which aggregates the results of the separate ratings and displays the side-by-side for easy analysis and offers advanced features such as computed indicator values and color coding of values based on thresholds. You can add extra tables as required.
  • a Multi-criteria results chart which visualizes up to three data-columns of the Multi-criteria table in a coordinate system. Add as many charts as you require to a Multi-criteria table.

2 Structure the agenda with sections

Add sections and name them appropriately to structure longer or more complex agendas. Most Leaders name sections as a kind of headline for what follows below, for example

  • 1 Review last quarter, 2 Product launch XYZ, 3 Restructuring of ABC, or
  • 1 Problem definition, 2 Possible solutions, 3 Implementation planning, or
  • 1 Morning, 2 Afternoon

When you add the first section a 'Section frame' is added to the left of the Agenda. The Section frame serves for an easy navigation of the agenda. Try it.

3 Timing

Enable timing of the agenda in the Basics meeting settings tab to create a timeline for the meeting.

The timeline is calculated by adding the duration assigned to each workspace to the start time of the meeting. For instance, if your meeting starts at nine and an initial Brainstorm is expected to run for 30 minutes, then the start time of whatever comes next is 09:30.

Changes in duration are reflected directly. Add time buffers to plan for the unexpected or activities outside the timed workspaces, for instance, a presentation or demo via screen sharing. Open the Basic tab of meeting settings to see whether you overrun. If you do, check where you can shave off some time to stay within your given time frame but be realistic. Even with MeetingSphere, there is only so much you can do in an hour or two.

Obviously, time planning only makes sense in a regular 'same-time' meeting. If you use MeetingSphere for 'anytime' collaboration, i.e. a meeting where you ask participants to contribute in their own time within a given time frame (days), time planning makes no sense.

If you plan to open some workspaces ahead of the 'real' meeting, tell your participants in the invitation and open the meeting at that earlier time but set the 'official' start time of the meeting to when you want the 'real' same-time meeting to begin.