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Konektis Research Programme - Experiment 2 (July 2021)

Purpose of Experiment 2

Experiment 2 was a randomised controlled trial conducted in July 2021 by Konektis in partnership with Exeter University and the Inclusivity Project. This work followed Experiment 1 (March 2021) which proved the benefit of using hand signals in video meetings with groups of students at UCL. This time the experiment was conducted with strangers and also investigated the difference between using hand signals versus reaction buttons.

The purpose was to understand if using groups using hand signals in a video meeting formed a closer bond between group members than those groups using reaction buttons or using nothing (control group).

What we did - method

The experiment involved groups having a discussion over Zoom about their experience of lockdown. A third of the groups were shown a brief video giving them instructions on how to use hand signals to aid their discussion, a third were shown a video giving them instruction on how to use reaction buttons to aid their discussion and a third received no video.

There were 22 groups in the study and a total of 134 participants:


Number of groups

Number of participants

Hand signals



Reaction buttons






The hand signals and reaction buttons used were as follows:

The four main stages of the experiment were as follows:

  1. Sign up on Prolific

  2. Complete questionnaire 1 on Gorilla (10-15 minutes)

  3. Participate in an online focus group discussion

  4. Complete questionnaire 2 on Gorilla (5-10 minutes)

Participants signed up initially via Prolific and completed an initial questionnaire on the Gorilla platform.

Next, the participants were guided to sign up for a focus group that took place on the same day. Participants were randomly allocated to one of 22 groups. Groups were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, either hand signals, reaction buttons or control.

To ensure full anonymity of transcript data, participants were instructed to rename their Zoom name. All of the sessions were run in the same way, except that the hand signals and reaction button groups watched a brief video that gave them instructions on how to use either 3 hand signals or 3 reaction buttons (stage 2 in the process below).

Finally, the participants were guided to the second questionnaire that took place on Gorilla. This questionnaire was comprised of X questions and took approximately 5-10 minutes.

Results so far (pre formal analysis and publication)

Early results show the teams using hand signals felt they had better conversations and bonded more with each other than the reaction button and control groups.

Why we think reaction buttons aren’t so effective

Konektis believe hand signals are superior to the use of reaction buttons as hand signals are instant, intuitive and easy to communicate. Reaction buttons are too slow, often when the correct reaction button has been found, the moment has passed.

When searching for the right reaction button to use, the individual has to look down. Looking away from the screen can lead to the individual missing vital points in the conversation or missing other members reactions to what is being said. Not only this, but this loss of concentration is indicative of the vicious circle that underpins all bad video meetings.

The buttons themselves do not convey real emotion, there is a lack in the number of reaction buttons available to indicate to the other members of the video meeting what you are trying to non verbally communicate.

We have found adding the human element of physical motion releases endorphins in the individual - promoting wellbeing.

Zoom announcement re hand signals to trigger reaction buttons

In September 2021 Zoom launched a new feature on their platform in which if you make a physical hand signal you can trigger a reaction button. This seems very odd to us as:

  1. If you have made the hand signal, why do you need the reaction buttons?

  2. We are finding that a closer personal connection is made by making a physical gesture than a computer generated gesture.

However, this may promote and make more acceptable the use of hand gestures, which we believe is a positive step, and may lead to the more widespread adoption of our techniques.

Further work - link to E3

Konektis is committed to undertaking original research to further the understanding of how to improve meetings and meeting leadership, particularly video and hybrid meetings.

We are now planning Experiment 3 which involves a field trial with 20-30 organisations, in which we train a team in video meeting signals, team passing and chairing and team behaviours and monitor outcomes over the following 3-6 months. This covers full video and hybrid meetings.

We are interested in speaking with organisations that would like to be involved. There is no cost for your involvement other than your time. Your team will have the opportunity to learn some skills which could benefit them for all future meetings and many teams gain a benefit in terms of increased performance and engagement.

If you would like to be involved please email:

More information on Experiment 3 can be found here:



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