Lessons From a Live Digital Engagement Event

We are in unpreceded times. And like many of you, I am juggling a variety of emotions whilst trying to manage the rapid changes at both home and at work. To be brutally honest, I am just taking things one day at a time. More than ever before we need to be understanding, adaptable and creative.

Last week I had to cancel an upcoming face-to-face event. Sound familiar?

However, rather than cancel, I decided to run it as a digital event. I was nervous, I was not prepared, I needed to rethink my entire approach and I hadn’t done this before. However, if there is a silver lining in our current times, it’s that it has presented us with an amazing opportunity to try, trial and test new approaches and ways to support, connect and engage with each other.

I asked those who RSVP’d to keep the event booking in their calendars and to await new details. I frantically revised the agenda and set up some digital tools so I could effectively run and facilitate an online session in real time. We decided to split the event into two parts. 

Firstly, we used Zoom (a video conferencing tool) so we could connect via video/sound, and to allow the sharing of case studies and a virtual presentation by my work colleague. I also wanted to demonstrate how video conferencing tools worked, as many people have had limited experience using these types of digital platforms. I imagine that in the coming weeks and months we will all be video meeting experts.

The second part was facilitated on a Bang the Table EHQ site, where I used a variety of our digital engagement tools to guide attendees through a series of online tasks. And this is the kicker, we did it all together and in real time. 

We used the EHQ Discussion Forum tool first for everyone to “say hi” and let me know as the facilitator that they were ‘in the digital room’. 

Our Places and Quickpoll tools were used next as our ‘ice-breaker’ activity, and then we moved onto the Ideas tool to identify and chat about other video conferencing platforms. Then, similar to an in-person workshop, we broke out into three discussion forums and engaged in conversation about three different topics. We then finished our real time digital engagement by inviting feedback via our Guestbook tool.

Did it all go to plan?  Absolutely not. Did I make a few mistakes? Yes, definitely. But did I learn lots?  Absolutely!

Given that our need to connect and engage with our work colleagues, stakeholders and communities still exists, I wanted to share some of the lessons I learnt in running a real time digital engagement event.

  1.  Be brave – it’s ok to experiment with new digital tools and different methods to engage online. And if, like me, you make a few mistakes, that’s ok – your intent and effort will be enough.
  2.  Have a clear agenda – provide a well-structured agenda and order your engagement steps to easily guide people along your digital engagement process.
  3.  Be prepared – test (and test again) new and unfamiliar digital tools/platforms. Make sure ‘co-presenters’ or facilitators are set up and briefed about their role prior.
  4.  Facilitate hard –welcome everyone and set the scene. Check that your participants’ tech is working ok. Have a solid agenda and timeframes and stick to it. Our EHQ Forum tool worked very well for this.
  5.  Make it two-way – ensure participants know how to ask questions, seek clarification and what digital tools they can use to participate.
  6.  Deliberately pause – and leave moments of silence, so people have time/space to be involved or to ask questions.
  7.  Keep it simple – don’t try and use too many digital tools at once. Only choose the digital tools that will best meet your engagement outcomes.
  8.  Introduce via video – embed a live stream or short video for participants to watch first, where you outline the tasks and digital agenda.
  9.  Close the Loop – At the end of your digital event thank everyone, encourage them to stay involved and up to date. Use your online platform to report back outcomes. 

Click through for more information on our upcoming ‘live digital engagement events’, and see first-hand how you can use the suite of our online engagement tools.

We also have a long list of how others from around the world are using EHQ to inform and engage their communities regarding Covid-19.

Stay safe and most importantly stay connected.

Published Date: 27 March 2020

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