Organizational Development Consultant and Leadership Coach

Ten Techniques to Make Decisions: #4 Dots

September 7, 2014

“There are times when we need a quick read on our initial reactions to potential decisions.  Is there a technique I can use to accomplish this?”

#4  Dots

What are Dots?

The Dots technique helps you visually ascertain a meeting group’s immediate reactions to proposed solutions or goals.

Dots can be especially effective when you want to accurately capture the personal sentiments of everyone within your meeting group.  Like Negative Voting, Technique #3 in this series, it allows for dissenting voices to be heard, while also allowing the group to understand who is feeling neutral on any option and who needs further information to form a decision.

Dots can be used as a normal voting tool as well.  However, in this technique Dots are not used as a final decision making tool but rather as a tool for understanding the initial reactions of the group before final decisions are taken.

When to Use Dots

  • When you want to insure that everyone has their opinion considered
  • When you want to gain feedback on the group’s opinions in a short amount of time
  • When you have completed a goal setting or action planning discussion

How to Use Dots

Before the Meeting

1. You will need to purchase enough colored Dots for the exercise.  These can typically be purchased at minimal cost at most office supply stores.

NOTE:  Be sure to buy Dots that are large enough to be seen from across a large room.

OPTION: If Dots aren’t available, purchase stars instead. If the colors you want are not available it is perfectly acceptable to use other colors.

2. Prepare the charts you plan to use.

During the Meeting

1. After brainstormed ideas have been discussed and clarified, ask the group to come forward and “dot vote” for every idea under consideration.  You might say in explanation, for example, “Using these color coded dots will give us an indication of which ideas are agreed upon, which have no support, and which need further discussion.” Use a chart or overhead, as illustrated below, to support your instructions.


OPTION: Depending on the situation, you might only want to use red and green dots.

2. After the Dot vote, ask the group for their feedback using open ended questions.  You might say, for example, “What are your reactions to what you see?”  “What stands out for you?”  “What conclusions can we draw from our dot vote?”  “What are the logical next steps?”

3. Summarize all the information from the Dots exercise and move on accordingly.

In Summary:

Dots helps you quickly learn the level of group support for a series of ideas or issues that are being considered for decision.

Before the Meeting

1. Purchase enough colored Dots for your meeting group.

During the Meeting

1. After all brainstormed issues have been discussed and clarified, ask your meeting group to come forward and “dot vote.”

2. After the vote, ask the group for their feedback on the results.

3. Summarize the information and move forward.


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You will find my book Mission Critical Meetings: 81 Practical Facilitation Techniques on Amazon.

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