Organizational Development Consultant and Leadership Coach

20 Techniques to Improve Meeting Productivity: #4 Pulse Check

December 9, 2013

“I know that from time to time there is some skepticism within our group. But I don’t know how to identify which specific issues are causing the most concern and how much our success is impacted. I wish I had a way of measuring the attitudes of our group. Do you have any ideas?”



PULSE CHECK is a technique to determine the mood, attitude, temperature, or pulse of your group. It involves asking individuals to articulate their feelings toward a particular issue.  Their ratings are used to determine the overall pulse of the group and act as a springboard for discussion about how people are feeling and why.

Negativity, left unchecked, can feed on itself. What may start with one or two people can quickly spread to the rest of the group. For this reason, it is wise to identify and address any concerns proactively. PULSE CHECK information will help identify any possible negative energy surrounding an issue and support its transformation into a positive force from the start. Because PULSE CHECK will also expose positive attitudes, it can help you sustain positive energy.

This technique should be used to help you feel the pulse of your group on an issue, positive or negative, so that you can use it to the group’s greatest advantage and benefit.


  • When you want to check how your group feels about a specific issue
  • When you suspect that there will be low energy and enthusiasm for your meeting
  • When the group has had negative experiences in the past and you want to stimulate more positive experiences in the future


1. Introduce the PULSE CHECK.

For example: “Let’s take our group’s pulse by identifying our present attitudes about [name the specific issue, concern, or even the meeting itself]. We will do this by secret ballot and tally. Then we will have a brief discussion of our findings and look for ways to turn any negative energy or concerns toward a positive outcome.”

2. Gather pulse ratings from each individual at the meeting.

a. Pass out small pieces of paper to all participants and ask them to select a number from one (low) to ten (high) that reflects their expectations for a successful outcome about the issue at hand. Have them write this number on the paper.

NOTE: You may participate unless you are a neutral facilitator.

OPTION: If the group has a high level of trust, ask for verbal reports or ask each person to come forward to tick his or her number on the chart.

OPTION: You may also do this through electronic voting.

b. Ask participants to fold their papers and pass them to one or two designated people near the front of the room.

NOTE: Designate people who are in a logical location for this. You could also ask participants to pass their paper to persons at corner points of the room or to a designated person at each table. Do what seems logical given the layout of your room and the size of your group.

c. Ask the designated people to read the numbers aloud. Record numbers by adding tick marks on a prepared chart similar to the one below.

              OUR COLLECTIVE “PULSE”

10-  (high)









1-  (low)

d. Identify the group’s average score. Add all the numbers together and divide by the total number of voters to arrive at the mean or average score.

NOTE: Unless you are quick at math, use a calculator. If you don’t have a calculator, ask another participant to do the math for you.

e. Ask volunteers to give some specific reasons why they awarded the ratings that they did.

3. Discuss your group results.

a. Ask the group, for example:

“What in particular stands out to you?”

“What are your reactions to this information?”

“How might these results impact our work together?”

“What can we do to exceed the expectations of the group?”

“How can we use this information to help us make xxxx more successful?”

NOTE: Modify these questions to best meet the specific needs of your group.

b. Summarize the key points from the group discussion. Chart key points as appropriate.

4. Take action according to the suggestions of the group.


1. Introduce PULSE CHECK.

2. Gather pulse ratings from each individual at the meeting.

3. Discuss the group results. Summarize the key points from the group discussion.

4. Take action according to the suggestions of the group.

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