Best way to fill those empty moments during voting sessions and filling out notes?

edited November 2021 in Collaboration & Facilitation

Nothing more awkward then just sitting around twiddling your thumbs while people vote or fill out notes for a couple of minutes.

What are some of your favorite ways to fill those up?

We've tried music sometimes, but obviously playing a spotify playlist through your speakers into a meeting isn't that nice. Would be fun to have some sort of integrated way of having people be able to listen to a playlist or songs together that could be some just background noise that you could use.

Personally, a little bosa nova goes a long way in my book.


  • I will have to check that out @Amanda, thanks for the heads up.

    The side games and activities are a great idea, I will have to keep that in mind when creating some templates for the team. I know a lot of people would appreciate that especially on some of the longer calls.

    Def going to check out some other services like OBS and some streaming things that might be able to route music directly into a Teams call or into the output directly for the calls to help with some of that mixing and atmospheric creation as well.

  • marktippin
    marktippin Mural Team mod

    Great question. Not all silence needs to be filled, but when most meetings are silent (except for the garbage trucks or construction noise in someone's neighborhood) I think it's ok to swing the pendulum towards some sound. In time we may collectively have our fill, and then silence will be welcome again.

    However, what audio you play is important. It's tempting to use what's popular, but I'd be cautious with things that include lyrics, simply because of the additional cognitive load that is introduced as people's brains try to parse that input.

    Before: As people enter a meeting, I find that they tolerate louder volumes (sometimes appreciate it as they are not obligated to talk right away) and it definitely boosts the energy, and helps shake off their previous meetings to become present for this meeting. I often try to join 5 min early (which is not my nature, I'm usually running behind) and then play something along the lines of "instrumental funk" that's got a beat.

    During: If you can theme the audio, that's fun. I've used "Jeopardy-style" audio for moments where we're voting, or when there's a brief head's-down individual work moment. Otherwise, there are any number of ambient artists who come to mind - Brian Eno, Steve Roach, Vangelis - you have to sort through these works, but having 4-6 "go-to" tracks available can really help add atmosphere to any gathering. Keep it low enough so that it's not distracting, and be sure to ask if it is - sometimes phone-based participants can struggle to hear what's going on when too many sounds are being compressed and sent to their device at once.

    After: I'm finding a new joy in leaving some room at the end of meetings I host so a conversation can continue afterwards, if there are other attendees who don't have a hard stop. Dropping some interesting audio can feel like an "after party" and sometimes the conversation goes right to the topic of music - and I've learned about a lot of new artists this way from my colleagues and workshop attendees!

  • I would say use the timer so participants can see ho much time is left and that feel Ok to go for a coffee, do the dishes, or simply wait until others are done. Allow them to make a decision how to 'best use' that time available'

    I had people take a moment of personal medication (close eyes and joy the moments of 'not having to do anything' for 60sec or so.

  • LOL. I want to get into adding music to fill space

  • When I read the comment about including games on the side I think it is brilliant. Games are a great way to get people engaged on the board, especially if they are new to Mural. However, my first thought was tic-tac-toe, and then my mind jumped to Wargames, Joshua the computer is going to bring down the world... ok, maybe not tic-tac-toe.

  • @bmanders1, I saw this GIF and was like "Wargames?" And then started chuckling out loud when I read your post. Watched this as an adult. Thought to self - goodness, this explains a lot.

    Also, you could add one of the chess boards to the side for people to play with each other on breaks.♟

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] ✭✭✭
    edited July 2021

    @Desirae, it's been a game changer for me. We have a playlist collaboration mural started for ideas both for solo work and synchronous collab sessions. Welcome to the community!

  • frabo
    frabo MCN ✭✭✭

    The difficulty from my experience is more to guess how much time will people need to vote. We have experienced a very large bandwidth, some are quick, some take ages to decide. Usually, most people are ready within a few minutes and then everyone is waiting for two persons who did not do more than two of the five votes during this time. Playing music is a nice idea, but what about the rights? You are broadcasting. At least here in Germany, this will be subject to a GEMA license.