What is it? Multi-voting allows a group to select the most important or preferred items from a list with a minimum of discussion. Those items that move to the top of the list can then be explored in depth. Multi-voting is done though a series of votes, with low ranking items eliminated after each round.
Why use it? Many issues are so complex and broad that long lists of items emerge during a brainstorming session. Multi-voting is a quick way to eliminate items and determine those on which the group members want to focus.
When to use it? Multi-voting is used after a brainstorming session or to narrow down any long list.
How to use it? After a brainstorming session, post all the flip charts for the group to see and follow the process below:
- Ask the group if any two or more items are so similar that they can be combined. Combine any items the group chooses by using the most representative wording and drawing a line through duplicates.
- Clearly number (or letter) all remaining ideas.
- Decide how many votes each person will have. A good rule of thumb is to allow each person a number of votes equal to one third of the total items on the list. For example, if there are thirty items on the list, each person has ten votes.
- Have each group member vote for items by listing the item number (or letters) on a piece of paper.
- Collect the pieces of paper and tally the number of votes for each item, placing the number of votes beside each item on the flipchart.
- Eliminate the items with the least votes. If there is no obvious separation between items, simply eliminate any that fall in the lower third of the ranking.
- Repeat this step until there is an obvious favorite or until there are a few clear favorites at the top of the list.
- Stop the voting and have the group discuss the results. If there is one clear favorite, ask the group if and why this represents the best choice. If there are several top choices, determine with the group whether one choice must be selected. If so, ask the group to discuss the pros and cons of each of the top choices and reach a decision by consensus as to which idea is best. If necessary, use one of the other methods to determine the best choice.
Caution: Multi-voting does not guarantee consensus. Do not use multi-voting when data collection, analysis, and decision criteria are necessary because it does not allow for much (if any) discussion of items prior to voting.
Compiled by Rae Stonehouse
Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.