Using spreadsheets for a round-the-room

In virtual discussions with groups larger than 8-10 people, it is almost always a bad idea to go around the room – i.e., to hear from each person – when discussing a topic. Many group members inevitably (and understandably) zone off – either to do something else or to think of what they want to say.

An alternative approach that works significantly better is to use a shared spreadsheet to facilitate the discussion. Give each person a cell/row and some time to to write out their point-of-view. Then, give everyone else a chance to read each other’s point-of-view and comment.

As this approach is more engaging and information dense, the discussion that follows is richer.