Equal Voice

Alexa skill to facilitate equal participation in group discussions

Product Design

Role

Duration

Team

UX Designer
UX Researcher

Oct 2020 (2 weeks)

Nikita Pinjare
Fatima Rafiqui

Opportunity
We spend a significant amount of time in group meetings, unfortunately, not all members are able to participate equally.
Verbal contribution in a discussion not only affects who gets heard, but also who gets the credit. Furthermore, it also effects team motivation, decisions and perspectives.
How might we create a conducive environment to encourage equal participation in a discussion?
Solution
Equal Voice is an Alexa skill to facilitate a discussion where everyone feels included and encourages equal participation.

Alexa facilitates a discussion by gently encouraging participants during pauses

When instructed, Alexa turns on group discussion mode. Using voice analysis, Alexa encourages the quieter participants by prompting them during pauses.

Providing different categories of meetings

Not all meetings demand equal participation amongst all participants. This equal voice provides different modes to accommodate to different situations.

Displaying meeting health using Echo

Alexa when paired with Echo, displays the meeting health. This representation helps participants visualize and regulate their participation in the meeting.

End of meeting report

At the end of each meeting, Alexa sends a report to each participant. It includes the overall meeting inclusivity and also the a feedback on individual’s participation.

Process
So, how did we get here?
We began by understanding our users, starting from ourselves. Reaching the design phase, we went through multiple rounds of iteration through user feedback.
Research
First, we did the groundwork!
We used different research methods to learn how unequal participation effects people and also how it effects the quality of a meeting.

Assumptions

To form initial hypothesis

Articles

To validate our assumptions

Interviews

To understand user perspective

Exemplars

To find design inspiration

Painpoints
So, how does unequal participation effect a group discussion?
Our research revealed pain points associated with being overshadowed.
1. Taking credit for someone else’s work
2. Decreased team motivation
Frequency of verbal contribution often leads to someone taking credit of someone else’s work.
Interviews with managers revealed when conversation is hijacked by only a few participants, it decraeses team motivation
3. Biased Decisions
4. Narrow Perspective
Often, people who contribute more to a discussion can influence the decision making and induce bias in the conversation.
In a survey conducted by Harvard Business Review, they found only 35% felt they were able to make contributions in a meeting.
Exemplars
We looked into existing products and were inspired by the ones that promoted inclusivity
Women Interrupted
Women Interrupted reflects that women do not get an equal opportunity to speak in meetings.
Meet Q
Meet Q is a genderless voice assistant. It promotes inclusivity by using a voice frequency that is neutral.
Product Goals
Our painpoints helped us create product goals to empower our users.
1
Inclusivity
A meeting is considered productive when all members participate and feel valued.
3
Self Awareness
We want individuals to be aware of their actions and make a conscious effort to bring equality.
2
Encouragement
Encouragement is a constructive way to bring about diverse opinions from everyone.
How might we create a conducive environment to encourage equal participation in a discussion?
Ideation
Keeping our product goals in mind, we ideated a few ideas and finally ended up with Equal Voice.
Equal Voice is an Alexa skill to facilitate a discussion where everyone feels included and encourages equal participation.
Ok, but how does it work?
Alexa turns on the discussion mode upon instruction.
Once the mode is turned on, it overhears the meeting discussion and keeps a record of who is speaking and for how long.
Based on voice analysis, it encourages people who have been talking in the group discussion more than others to give the rest a chance by interrupting during conversation pauses.
Behavioral Prototype Testing
We tested the concept by wizarding the concept
To rapidly prototype the behavior of the Equal Voice concept, we decided to create a scenario to mimic the concept. We started the group discussion on a topic inclusive to all. Analyzing the frequency of participation, the phone call would interrupted the conversation to make it more inclusive.
Behavioral testing revealed gaps in our concept
1. Voice and Tone
2. Figuring out the mechanism
Interruption can be intimidating during a conversation thus a need to sound more motivating and encouraging.
A meeting can be short or long. Thus, we need to empower users to set the meeting timing and choose if they want to be interrupted or not.
User Feedback
To overcome our challenges, we checked in with an engineer
This helped us understand the constraints and feasibility of a voice interface in a group setting.
Final Design
After a few rounds of prototyping and testing we landed on a design.
Let's walk through a scenario!
First, Enable the equal voice skill in Amazon Alexa application.
Once enabled, activate Equal Voice by prompting, “Alexa, turn on group discussion mode”
After enabling the skill, select the meeting category, so that Alexa can tailor the experience.
Then, the members of the meeting would need to mark their presence through the equal voice app by entering the meeting code. This would help Alexa better moderate the meeting.
While the meeting is progress, the Alexa Show screen displays the meeting health. The health is calculated as a function of member participation and time elapsed.
At the end of the meeting, every member of the meeting receives a report of the meeting and individual feedback.
Then, meeting length is set to help Alexa understand when to interrupt and how often. A meeting code is then generated to begin the meeting.
Reflection

© Designed with ❤️ by Nikita Pinjare

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