Contribience, no Google hits yet!

Helsinki, 6th of October 2016,

A new word was born on this day. During a Keyshop for Meeting professionals in Helsinki, Finland. The word is contribience. We made it up because there is no good word for what we wanted to cover in the Keyshop: the trend for attendees to become actively involved. More and more people demand to leave the passive role of being an audience. They want to contribute. They do that on YouTube (Broadcast yourself!), on Facebook and in Wikipedia…so why not during meetings?

The title of the Keyshop was “From audience to contribience”. The word Audience refers to the Latin verb for listening: Audiens. So an audience is a group of people that listens. A contribience, however, is different. Its meaning is this: meeting attendees that contribute. Why do we, meeting professionals, need a new word for this?

MindMeeting introduced new words and expressions earlier. The notion of Venue Message helps to talk about the influence of venues on meeting processes. Content Flow refers to the dynamics of processing content. A Keyshop, as a new format, dsecribes the option to deliver a Keynote and working formats for large groups at the same time. It turns the traditional one-way communication in a Keynote into interaction and knowledge exchange. These words support the understanding of the very core of the meeting processes. Words can help options to materialize, imagination to flourish and understanding to grow. That is why we need new words, every now and then. Contribience is the next new-born.

The word contribience helps us understand meetings as an instrument to harvest what a group of people has to offer. The potential of an audience of – let’s say – 1,200 people, in ideas, experience, solutions and relationships, is staggering. Not harvesting that potential is not very intelligent. You could put it differently: it is stupid. Having these 1,200 people listening is not enough. Calling them a contribience is the first step to unleash the potential.



The second step is to understand what will make them contribute. In the Keyshop we identified these factors:

  • give attendees the bigger picture
  • get the buy-in of their boss
  • interview them to know their allergies and deep wishes
  • offer them a safe environment, the guarantee that they can speak out without negative consequences
  • give them space to diverge at first, and later help them to reach conclusions
  • capture the results
  • decide who owns the results, who is responsible for processing the results after the meeting
  • and plan follow-up communications carefully

 In the Helsinki Keyshop we asked which of these requirements is most difficult to fulfill. What would be your answer for your country? The Finnish answer was interesting. It revealed the forces which, in Finland, may obstruct participants’ contributing. Of course, we had a number of solutions ready. But our input was not necessary. We asked the Meeting professionals themselves to answer their own questions. And they did! The answers were very, very useful. How come? A contribience in action!


2 replies
  1. Adrian Segar
    Adrian Segar says:

    I like the made up word “contribience” but I still prefer the existing word that I use — participants. To me, “contribience” places an emphasis on contribution rather than a dynamic mixture of contribution and reception. Taking it to the extreme, if everyone is contributing all the time, no one is learning from anyone else!

    At any moment in a functional conversation, one person is talking and another is listening. One is contributing and the other is receiving. Momentarily these people are in teacher and student roles, but, unlike broadcast learning, these roles switch constantly as the conversation ebbs and flows. Both people are _participating_; neither is exclusively actively contributing or passively receiving.

    • Eric
      Eric says:

      The dynamics of listening and responding are of course what participants are involved in. Waves up and down…the process that you and me are specialised in. participants take part in that, clear language. Contribience, however, does relate to the group of participants ‘as a whole’. It does not give a qualification to single attendees, like the word participants. So, what do you call a group of participants that contributes, in stead of just listening, consuming, just attending…?


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.