Every generation of office workers has found a way to express the same idea: meetings can be painful. It’s been twenty years since the comic strip Dilbert made a name parodying corporate work culture, and Gen-Z has now taken up the baton — TikTok has a never-ending stream of young professionals skewering video meeting culture.
At MURAL, we’re committed to fixing workplace collaboration. We fundamentally believe that by making meetings engaging and fun, increasing interactivity, giving everyone a voice, and helping disparate teams work together better, companies can unleash imagination and accelerate innovation.
And this mission is more important than ever as Covid has accelerated the future of distributed and remote work. New research shows that over the last year workers lost an additional 157 hours in productivity due to unnecessary meetings, as casual watercooler chats were replaced by calendar holds for video meetings.
Happily, there are signs of real change at companies large and small. From giants like IBM to fast-growing software companies like Zapier, changemakers across the globe are leading others to better meetings, inviting collaboration both in real-time and asynchronously to accommodate global workforces (and life).
Who are these changemakers? We call them facilitators. And you don’t have to be a professional facilitator to run better meetings that put imagination to work. That’s why MURAL has prioritized Facilitation Superpowers that make it simple for everyone to run engaging, interactive, and fun meetings that lead to better outcomes.
On this journey, we’re partnering with leaders in this space, like those at Voltage Control, an agency committed to harnessing the power of the group through expert facilitation. In fact, we’re partnering with them to sponsor their annual facilitator summit Control the Room to further evangelize the skills of professional collaboration.
And today, as Control the Room kicks off, we’re excited to announce five new facilitation features:
We’re releasing the first of these new features today, followed by a new update almost every week into March. Now let’s explore how each feature can help you elevate your meetings and workshops.
Available now when you sign in or start a trial!
Every great facilitator knows that to get the most out of meetings and workshops, they need to engage everyone and make the experience interactive. To do that, there are critical moments when you need to be able to capture and hold the audience's attention to present, explain, and initiate specific activities. Ideally, facilitators would be 100% certain what people are seeing on their screens at these moments.
In July, we released Summon, which gathers everyone to the same place in a mural. As you move around the mural, participants automatically follow you. Participants will stop following you if they move around the mural or add content. While Summon is perfect for gathering collaborators together, they can break away and could get lost on the mural, missing critical instructions or insights.
Take Control essentially locks collaborators’ screens to yours until a facilitator chooses to release them. Collaborators cannot break away or add content when Take Control is activated, ensuring no distractions during critical moments. This is a great feature to employ when sharing session agendas or instructions with first-time MURAL collaborators.
Coming soon this February
Working remotely can feel sterile and disconnected. It’s hard to perceive the smiles, nods, murmurs of agreement, and eye contact we use to gauge feedback from the room. These small and subtle “microinteractions” help show people are following along, appreciate an idea, or agree with something that’s being said. They’re sorely lacking in video meetings.
Now, you can add a fun human element to your collaboration sessions by sharing your feelings visually in a mural with select emojis. Let your fellow collaborators know how you feel by clicking on the smiling face icon next to your avatar and choosing a 👍, ♥️, or 🎉.
Collaborators will have the option to choose their skin tone on the thumbs up. And facilitators can control when Reactions is available to collaborators with an on/off toggle for the mural.
Coming later this February
There used to be two paradigms for the apps we use in the digital working space: one a facsimile of a piece of paper (such as Word doc or a Google Slide) and the other an infinite canvas with no edge or border. Both options have significant shortcomings. One clearly has too severe constraints, but having no boundaries at all also limits creativity and can increase the learning curve.
So, MURAL decided to offer you the best of both worlds with an easily resizable canvas. When you want to constrain the work area — especially important for collaborating with first-time users — you can. When you need more space for creativity, simply go to any side of the mural and expand it.
You’ll be able to simply drag every edge of the canvas to expand or contract it, not just from the right and bottom sides like before.
We’ve found that consultants love the ability to create a more polished-looking mural for their clients, and facilitators running workshops appreciate being able to define the space where collaborators can work so no one gets lost. On the other hand, designers relish the flexibility to instantly expand their workspace as creativity demands.
There isn’t one best way to run a meeting or workshop. Leaderships styles differ, facilitators may have different goals, and team needs vary. To have better meetings and workshops, leaders need to be able to facilitate different experiences — and their collaborative workspace should be flexible enough to support their innovation.
That’s why we’re opening more opportunities for facilitators to customize the meeting and workshop experience in MURAL — starting with features that will improve engagement with your session:
First up is the ability to customize visitor avatars (coming later in February). Currently, all visitors are assigned an animal as an avatar. But soon, you’ll be able to choose musical instruments or travel icons for avatars in addition to the default animal avatars.
Next, facilitators will be able to choose different timer alert sounds (coming soon!). Switching up the timer sounds can add a little variety for collaborators working in MURAL sessions, and a little variety can help your team uncover and align around the best ideas.
These customizations will be accessible by right-clicking on the mural canvas. Over the course of 2021, expect to see even more ways to customize the experience in MURAL. I’m really excited about all the new Facilitation Superpowers we’re planning to delight your participants.
One part of effective collaboration is clearly understanding others’ ideas. We’ve heard from customers that even though you can use the cursor to reference specific areas and objects on a mural, there are instances where it is not enough. For example, it can be hard to identify the correct cursor when there are a lot of people in a mural, or to simply reference a group of ideas.
To help clarify communication, MURAL will provide facilitators a Laser Pointer. It’s a clear way to draw focus to specific areas and objects, mimicking the same spontaneity of an in-person session that feels organic and fun. The Laser Pointer temporarily highlights places on the mural.
MURAL is the go-to solution for changemakers seeking to empower their teams, company, and clients to solve hard problems together, accelerate innovation, and unleash imagination. Facilitation Superpowers are the key to leading better meetings for everyone.
We can’t wait to see what you do with these new superpowers. And if you need a little extra support for your next meeting, check out our ultimate guide to remote facilitation.