We often tell customers that we have “a million silly phone tricks,” and to a certain degree, that’s true. We’re continuously crafting new features for the system, extending it in ways that address the evolving needs of our customers.
This time, I’d like to focus on a little-known feature that been in the system for a very long time…
Conference participants can vote on matters before the group using only the keypad on their telephone. They simply press *2X on their keypad, where X is the number of the of the option that they support.
If participants are allowed access to the conference dashboard, they can also cast their vote via the web.
We accept that in many case this just adds complexity. Voting via the telephone keypad is usually easiest.
A Simple Yes/No Example
I am presently on the board of our local civic association, which provides an excellent example of how this feature can be used. Let’s consider the simple case of a board or committee voting to approve a motion. The motion has been stated clearly to the conference participants. All that is required is a yes, no, or abstain from voting.
The participants are instructed to vote as follows:
- Press *21 to vote YES.
- Press *22 for NO.
Participants can change their vote at any time, but they can vote only once. They can also clear their vote by pressing *20.
Once voting has started the results appear, clearly displayed in the real-time, in the conference dashboard, as shown below.
The conference host can clear the vote tally by pressing *928 on their telephone keypad. This causes the system to record the final vote count for delivery in the post-conference summary message.
The conference participants can then move on to the next issue, voting on it as a separate matter.
Let’s consider a more elaborate example of in-conference voting. A committee was faced with selecting a logo for a holiday festival. We had before us a handful of designs, designated #1 through #4.
While we had distributed copies in advance of the conference, we also used ZipDX web-sharing to keep the discussion focused on each design, one-by-one.
As the time allocated for discussion drew to an end, the last slide (shown above) displayed an array of the designs under consideration. Each was numbered to make voting clear.
Participants voted using *2X, where X is the number of the logo they prefer. As it happens, the group selected #4.
The Post-Conference Summary
Upon completion of the conference the host received the usually summary email. In this case, it included a vote tally for the two issues where participants voted.
Note that the vote tally indicated each vote separately, including the time that each vote took place. That time is shown in the local time of the conference organizer.
The vote tallies are conveyed, but not the breakdown of the voting. Thus the voting remains anonymous. We don’t record how each participant voted.
In-conference voting has improved our conference calls in two ways; it saves time, and has improved the accuracy of our meeting minutes.
Before we began using in-conference voting, the process of taking a vote was laborious and time-consuming. It was basically a roll-call. The host would call out each participant’s name so they could vote aloud. The secretary would record the vote manually for later inclusion in the minutes. The process of taking a single vote with ten participants could take 5-10 minutes, since each person would usually make some comment as they cast their vote verbally.
By abandoning this method of voting aloud, we save a substantial amount of time. Once discussion of an issue is closed, the vote happens quickly and silently. After just a minute or two the host announces the result displayed on the conference dashboard. Post-conference the secretary gets a copy of the conference summary, making it easier to assemble accurate minutes.
Side Note: Click here to learn how to disable in-conference voting for specific participants.
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