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Gamification “makes about as much sense as chocolate-dipped broccoli”. Education professor Amy Bruckman, coined this analogy in a 1999 paper on game software design:
“Most attempts at making software both educational and fun end up being neither. Fun is often treated like a sugar coating to be added to an educational core. Which makes about as much sense as chocolate-dipped broccoli. The problem is that too many game designers are using long-outmoded models of what it means to be “educational”.
Game designer and author Ian Bogost makes the same point, somewhat more forcefully:
“…gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway.
Bullshitters are many things, but they are not stupid. The rhetorical power of the word “gamification” is enormous, and it does precisely what the bullshitters want: it takes games—a mysterious, magical, powerful medium that has captured the attention of millions of people—and it makes them accessible in the context of contemporary business.” —Ian Bogost, Gamification is Bullshit (2011)
How can we design the optimum balance between control versus freedom at meetings? First, let’s get one misconception out of the way. As I wrote in 2010:
The reality is that you never had control to begin with, just the myth of control. You’ve been kidding yourself all these years. Unless your constituency is bound to your event via a requirement to earn CEUs, members can withhold their attendance or avoid sessions at will. —The myth of control
Note that I’m not suggesting meeting professionals give up any attempt to control what happens at their events. Maintaining control of vital logistics, and having and executing backup plans when unexpected developments occur are core requirements and responsibilities of our job.
It’s when we try to tightly control every aspect of our meeting that our events suffer. Surprisingly, clinging to control is the easy way out. As Dee W Hock, founder and former CEO of VISA, put it:
Any idiot can impose and exercise control. It takes genius to elicit freedom and release creativity.
“Any idiot can impose and exercise control. It takes genius to elicit freedom and release creativity.” —@DeeWHock
To “elicit freedom and release creativity”, we need to recognize that participants are stakeholders in the event, rather than “just” an audience.
Why are they event owners?
“…participants are event owners because, to some extent, they control what happens next.” —Adrian Segar, Who owns your event?
Creating events that truly meet participants’ wants and needs
In order to create events that truly meet participants’ wants and needs, we need to provide three things:
Appropriate meeting logistics that meet participants’ bodily and sensory needs.
Content and experiences that participants actually want and need.
Maximal opportunities for participants to connect around the content and during the experiences.
Our traditional work
The first bullet point describes the traditional work of meeting professionals. Our logistical designs control the environment that participants experience. They include flexible, support (plans B – Z) when the unexpected happens. In this arena we are in control through our careful planning, which includes resources for a wide range of contingencies.
Giving up control where and when it’s not needed
To satisfy the remaining bullet points, we have to give up control. Why? To give participants the freedom to satisfy their wants and needs! To do this, participants need the freedom to choose what they talk about, whom they talk to and connect with, when it suits them. Our job is to support these activities as much as possible by providing appropriate:
Structure [participant-driven and participation-rich formats and sessions]; and
Resources [flexible physical and/or online spaces, facilitators, and a schedule that can be developed, as needed, at the event].
Notice that providing these improvements over traditional meetings doesn’t mean that your meeting will turn out to be wildly different from what took place before. It’s perfectly possible that your event will include sessions that look very similar to what you might have scheduled for a tightly controlled program. The difference is that your participants will have chosen these sessions and formats themselves, not you.
Instead of control versus freedom, choose control and freedom. Each assigned to the appropriate characteristics of your event.
That makes all the difference.
For a discussion of control versus freedom in the context of event leadership, you may find this post useful…
Why people continue to speak for free at meeting industry conferences: Another issue of an occasional series—Dear Adrian—in which I answer questions about event design, elementary particle physics, solar hot water systems, and anything else I might conceivably know something about. If you have a question you’d like me to answer, please write to me (don’t worry, I won’t publish anything without your permission).
“I agree that the willingness of some people to speak for free is the biggest hurdle to fixing this problem. If people agree to speak for free, then why would the organizers change their practice?”
Here’s my response:
There will always be two sets of people willing to speak for free:
There will be newbies, attempting to create a speaking resume so they can up their credibility and, hopefully, eventually get paying gigs. I have no problem with people doing this — all veterans were newbies once. But of course, by definition, the meeting gets someone with:
little or no speaking experience;
no track record; and
an unknown level of expertise.
That may be great for the budget of the meeting organizers, but these are not necessarily the best people to put in front of a paying audience.
Industry providers of goods and services
The other folks willing to speak for free are industry providers of goods and services, who may well have already paid to be at the event to staff their trade show booth or meet customers. They already have a financial incentive and justification to attend, and presenting a session gives them the opportunity to spread knowledge of their existence to potential paying customers. Some of these people are great and don’t promote their company. In my experience, most of them are so-so presenters. In addition, we’ve all had to sit through “speakers” who blatantly promote themselves and their companies on our dime and time.
This group has become far more common at meeting industry conferences over the years. Ten years ago, even when I had just started to present on meeting industry topics, organizations routinely offered fees and reimbursement of expenses. A review of meeting industry conference programs over the last five years confirms a significant trend to supplier-employed speakers, plus a few folks from the meeting industry association itself. Generally, the only speakers who get paid are the “big names” — often “outside” speakers with dubious and transitory value to meeting professionals — whom the association uses to trumpet how wonderful their meeting is.
My experience— and a tip
Currently, I receive several weekly requests to present for free. (That’s despite having been voted one of the top 100 most influential people in the event industry in global polls for the last two years.) Sadly, unless I am unusually interested in presenting at the event, I don’t even bother to respond any more. I know from years of experience that asking for payment will invariably be met with some kind of embarrassed excuse.
[Tip: If you’re reading this, and want to get someone like me to speak at your meeting, try including what you will offer for fee and expense reimbursement in your initial request. Initial offers of payment are so rare, your inquiry will immediately rise to the top of my pile.]
For the reasons given above, it’s unrealistic to expect that a supply of “free” speakers will ever disappear. As usual, you get what you pay for. When you pack your program with free speakers, it’s your attendees who suffer. However, in my experience, meeting organizations don’t seem to care these days.
Actually, there is a third group of people who speak for free. I belong to this group, as do many of my colleagues.
I’m referring, of course, to pro bono speaking. Giving back to our meeting industry community is important and it feels good. I am always open to presentation opportunities for organizations that clearly have no source of funding for speaker reimbursement. (Which does not mean that they have a budget with a zero line item for speaking fees and expenses.)
What makes attending conferences worthwhile? As I described in Conferences That Work, the two most common reasons for attending conferences are to learn useful things and make useful connections. But there are numerous other ways that conferences provide value to stakeholders. In this post I’ll focus on, arguably, the most useful conferences we can design: those that solve participants’ problems.
A useful taxonomy of problems
When thinking about solving problems, the Cynefin framework provides a helpful taxonomy of problem types. It’s useful because each Cynefin domain requires a different problem-solving approach. Cynefin describes five domains, usually named as: obvious, complicated, complex, chaotic, and disorder. Check out the above Wikipedia link to learn more about them.
As we’ll see:
Traditional conferences support, to some degree, solving participants’ obvious and complicated problems.
Peer conferences improve this support by allowing participants to share their top-of-mind problems in real time and leverage peer resources to get solutions.
Designing experiments into our conferences allow participants to explore solutions to complex problems.
How to help solve participants’ obvious, complicated, and complex problems at conferences
Here’s a little more detail on the obvious, complicated, and complex problem domains. For each domain, I’ll include examples of meeting processes you can use to satisfy participants’ problem solving wants and needs.
Obvious problems (“known knowns”) have known solutions, often called “best practice”.
For example, how do I:
Determine what employee data to store in the human resources system?
Provide frequent and timely feedback to my staff?
Maximize milk production on a New England dairy farm?
Research a potential client’s financial background?
These examples might remind you of the kinds of topics that routinely appear as the titles of traditional conference sessions. That’s because these are problems to which experts know the answers, or, at least, have plenty of good advice to share. Their expertise can, therefore, be shared with participants via traditional presentations.
Sadly, traditional lecture-style sessions are only good for solving participants’ obvious problems. What’s more, the session will be of little use unless the session content happens to match a participant’s current problem.
Peer conferences reduce problem solving limitations in the obvious domain, by allowing participants to influence the content and scope of meeting sessions in real time during the event. So it’s much more likely that participants’ top-of-mind obvious problems will be effectively addressed at a peer conference.
Unfortunately, the majority of our day-to-day challenges are not obvious. (That’s why we spend much more time and energy working on them than obvious problems.) Complicated problems (“known unknowns”) succumb to expert analytical judgment.
For example, how can I:
Unify my business’s unique branding and marketing needs?
Implement a customer relationship management system for my veterinary circus animal practice?
Provide the best guest experience at my Airbnb castle rental?
Evaluate event production company abilities for a game-changing event I’m planning?
Traditional conference lecture-format sessions provide almost no time for solving participants’ complicated problems. Typically, complicated problems can only be addressed up during a question and answer period at the end of the session, when there is little time to perform the kind of analysis a session expert might be able to supply.
Interactive conference sessions allow more opportunities for participants to share specific complicated problems and get targeted advice. However, few presenters incorporate significant interactivity into their sessions, and this format is more the exception than the rule.
Once again, peer conference sessions provide significantly more ways to solve participants’ complicated problems. There are two reasons for this. First, as above, peer sessions are far more likely to address the actual problems participants are currently facing. And second, peer session formats use the resources in the room — not just the session leadership — to uncover and resolve top-of-mind participant problems. (For more information on how to do this, see my book Event Crowdsourcing: Creating Meetings People Actually Want and Need.)
Complex problems (“unknown unknowns”) are even harder to resolve.
Don’t really know what questions to ask to start; and
Cannot accurately predict what the consequences of action would be.
Unlike the obvious and complicated domains, we have to approach complex problems by doing experiments. Cynefin describes this process using the word trio [probe–sense–respond], as opposed to the trios for the obvious [sense–categorize–respond], and complicated [sense–analyze–respond] problem domains.
Complex problems have to be tackled in the same way that scientists use experiments to probe the world around us and gradually build understanding of it.
Thus exploring complex problems requires a probing experiment, from which we observe outcomes, and then, with our understanding perhaps slightly improved, we probe in an appropriately different way again. With persistence and luck, over time we may be able to formulate some helpful responses to the problem.
It may seem strange to run experiments at conferences, but I’ve participated in (and designed) a few conference experiments over the years, and have invariably found them to be some of the most interesting and illuminating meeting experiences I’ve ever had.
The Solution Room creates a host of simultaneous small group problem-solving experiments, designed to support the solving of participants’ current challenges in a single session.
Finally, there are conferences that are entirely experiments!
In the meetings world, the most well known are the series of EventCamps that were held around the world between 2010 and 2014. These were volunteer-run, meeting experiments that explored a wide range of meeting and session formats and technologies. For example, we designed and held some of the earliest hybrid meetings, and introduced the meeting industry to peer conferences, gamification, improv, sustainability issues, and many other, now common, meeting components. These events made a profound impression on pretty much everyone who participated. Many of the people I met remain friends today.
Since 2016, I’ve been participating in the annual, invitation-only Meeting Design Practicum conferences that have been held all over Europe. A rotating crew of two or three volunteers organize these wonderful events. They plan an experimental program and ask participants to contribute in various ways, but are the only people who know the entire program in advance. Truly a unique and different experiment each year!
Conferences that are entire experiments are rare because they are risky. Experiments, by definition, have unpredictable results, which means they may “fail” to produce “desirable” outcomes. The understandable default assumption for most meeting industry clients is that their meetings are “successful”, and clients who are willing for “success” to include novel learning from innovative experiments are rare.
Nevertheless, whether held by the meeting industry for itself or for clients, meeting experiments provide the potential for the participants to work on some of their most difficult problems, those that are complex. Bear this in mind if you see an opportunity to create experimental sessions or events!
Solve participants’ problems!
Whatever kind of conference you design, remember the value of incorporating sessions and formats that solve participants’ problems. It’s no accident that the experiment-rich Solution Room is the most popular and highly rated plenary I offer. Give your participants opportunities to solve their top-of-mind problems at your meetings and you’ll make them very happy!
Image attribution: Cynefin illustration by Edwin Stoop (User:Marillion!!62) – , CC BY-SA 4.0
Clearly, sense-making is a vital human activity. At a fundamental level, our brains are continuously, and largely automatically, making sense of our sense organ data. At higher levels of thought, we routinely attempt to make sense of situations that confront us. If we didn’t, the world would be a confusing and more dangerous place.
Our sense-making prowess allows us to build models of the present and make decisions about potential future behavior. Thus, sense-making is a key ingredient of our ability to plan and make group decisions.
The danger of our drive to make sense
There’s a flip side to our incredible ability to make sense of our perceptions and experiences. Dave Snowden, speaking about tactics used by the foresight community, says:
Dave Snowden coined the term retrospective coherence, aka Monday morning quarterbacking, when talking about the behavior of complex systems. (See Dave Snowden and Mary Boone’s classic article A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making to learn more about complex systems, a domain of the Cynefin framework.) Retrospective coherence means that, in a complex environment, it seems easy in hindsight to explain why things happened. Unfortunately, applying our sense-making abilities to complex systems doesn’t work, since cause and effect can only be determined in retrospect.
For those with short memories, the danger of retrospective coherence is that it inspires a false confidence in their ability to make correct predictions. To avoid such inflation of our predictive expertise we need to scrupulously compare our predictions with actual outcomes, and admit our limitations.
Premature convergence is our predilection to prematurely decide we have found the answer to a problem and stop exploring other possibilities.
Determining what is “adequate” time is one of the arts of facilitation.
During divergence, a facilitator supports the uncovering of relevant questions, information, perspectives, and ideas.
At some point, there’s a switch to the Groan Zone. Here, the participants discuss what’s been uncovered, develop a shared framework of understanding, and create inclusive potential solutions. At least, that’s how Kaner describes the process, though the Groan Zone has always seemed to me to have a lot in common with what Virginia Satir’s change model calls chaos.
People have proposed many ways to move from groan zone to convergence, and some of them are flawed. There’s no single “right” way to move to convergence. But you’re likely guaranteed to come up with a poor conclusion if you don’t spend enough time diverging and groaning beforehand.
Despite the pitfalls outlined above, we are sense-making animals and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Stay realistic about your limitations to predict future outcomes, and take your time moving through divergent & Groan Zone process, and you’ll avoid the dangers of our drive to make sense.
Actually, I discovered recently, there’s more than one leak.
While reading Bill Bryson‘s delightful book, The Body: A Guide for Occupants, I came across this:
“The most remarkable part of all is your DNA (or deoxyribonucleic acid). You have a meter of it packed into every cell, and so many cells that if you formed all the DNA in your body into a single strand, it would stretch ten billion miles, to beyond Pluto. Think of it: there is enough of you to leave the solar system.”
—Bill Bryson, The Body
Think of that; a strand of the DNA from a single human being is long enough to escape our solar system.
Then there’s the email Celia wrote to Scott, our yoga teacher, explaining why we hadn’t been on his Zoom class last week:
“We’ve had some impediments—sickness (not Covid!), leaks in our solar system…”
She was referring to this unwelcome development in our solar hot water and radiant floor heating system, which I installed in 1983.
To which Scott replied:
“I’m loving ‘the leaks in our solar system’ … I think I know what you mean … But it could be even more of a universal statement describing 2020 in general :)”
But let’s go back to Scott’s reply. I’m loving ‘the leak in the solar system’ … I think I know what you mean. 2020 has been a crazy year for just about everyone. We can’t do anything about a leaking solar system 200 light-years away (not that we need to, thank goodness). On the other hand, I can fix the leaks in my solar system perhaps with a plumber’s help.
In between, I hope that, collectively, we can fix the leaks in the world that 2020 has brought us. And, in this, my last post for 2020, I wish you a much better year in 2021.
Last week I immensely enjoyed participating in a two-hour Zoom brain trust on moderating online panels. So good, it should be shared with a wider audience. So here’s a treasury of good ideas and resources we uncovered.
Huge thanks to the conveners and leaders: my friend, team performance and facilitation expert Kristin Arnold, and corporate innovation leader Scott Kirsner.
As you’d expect if you know these folks, the session was very well organized and facilitated. No mean task for a vocal group of 28!
Thank you Scott & Kristin for providing an agenda and (pretty closely) sticking to it! Here it is.
15 mins: Who’s here; what sort of moderating have you been doing?
5 mins: Scott shares some recent learnings from virtual events.
10 mins: Kristin shares some recent learnings from virtual events, and a quick overview of what’s in her book.
20 mins: Breakouts (in groups of 4). What are 1-2 of your online moderating pro tips? Capture these on a shared doc (Slido).
10 mins: How did that go? Report back and bio break.
30 mins: Is panel prep different in the virtual world? Speaker recruiting? Tools and techniques for engaging the audience. Debates on burning questions (like chat or no chat, prep call or no prep call, right length.)
30 mins: Additional Q&A and discussion time (if needed).
I usually put these at the end, but because this post incorporates large, sometimes verbatim, chunks of Kristin Arnold’s excellent session notes I want to give her full co-author credit. Any errors and omissions are mine. Kristin’s name appears many times in what follows; some of the comments are hers, some are her notes on what others said.
While I’m mentioning Kristin, the best resources I know on becoming a first-rate panel moderator are her panel-focused website and short but packed book Powerful Panels. Visit the former and buy the latter!
And now the ideas…
Some of what follows is verbatim; some is edited by me slightly. Editorial additions/comments are shown in red. When the contributor is known, I’ve added their name (with a link the first time they’re mentioned).
Pre-event calls with panelists
There are two kinds of pre-event calls, though these categories can blur, and might be covered in a single call:
Connecting with panelists. This includes getting to know them, moderator education, defining panel and panelist scope, discussing potential topics and issues
Prep/production calls. This includes technical run-throughs.
“I call it a ‘production call like you would have if you were going to be on The View or Live with Kelly and Ryan .” —Glenn Thayer
For sure, I help drive the attendee experience and engagement and deliver on the networking value of the virtual event. Much more than a security blanket. —Sarah Michel
We always assign a breakout room “table captain” pre-hand for who will moderate the breakout room. —Raza Shaikh
Zoom now has the feature to set a room topic too. —Kristin Arnold[I think you’re referring to Zoom Rooms, not Zoom Meetings. The latter has always allowed you to rename breakout rooms to a topic, issue, or group as desired.] • However, EVERYONE in the zoom room must have the latest version of Zoom downloaded or they won’t see the room options/topics. —Sarah Michel
At what audience size do you find that “all mics open” breaks down? —Andrew Lee Rubinger • Haven’t found a max yet. Did it up to 150 . —Jan-Jaap In der Maur
Integrate breakouts – put a panelist in each of the breakout rooms. —Kristin Arnold
On “intentionality”: I determine the story arc I want told in the session. It’s like a jazz performance – it’s all improv, but there are waypoints to hit. —Andrew Lee Rubinger
IME, well-designed problem solver panels are great and audiences love them. —Adrian Segar
To help ensure that participants know what to do in breakouts, when the breakout rooms are open, message them with instructions, time available, etc. Have this prewritten elsewhere, so it can be efficiently pasted into the platform. —Kristin Arnold
Do your research before you talk to the panelists. —Kristin Arnold
Curiosity is key. —Adrian Segar
Record prep call – use those recorded snippets for social media marketing for live event! —Kristin Arnold [Love this!]
Goal of pre-call that they feel comfortable enough that they could mock me. —Kristin Arnold
What questions, issues, what are you hoping to get out of this session at the beginning in the chat ? —Kristin Arnold
Know your moderator style. —Kristin Arnold
If you want to be interesting, you have to be interested. —Daniel Seewald
General panel wisdom
Pre-empt attendee objections. For example, reduce fears about being in breakout rooms with strangers. —Demoed by Scott Kirsner during our session
Engaging the audience is not the same as involving the audience (giving them a task to do). —Kristin Arnold
Ensure your audience knows you care…AND your panelist knows you care. Watched a Comicon panel with Charlize Theron. Initially, she wasn’t engaged. Once the moderator asked questions that really showed she did her homework, she literally leaned in. —Kristin Arnold
The best and most engaging moderated event I’ve seen was a workshop on “visual thinking strategies” at Innovation Leader’s Impact conference, where the moderator of the discussion spent about 45 min having a group discussion about a Picasso painting. She just asked questions about what we saw and what we thought those symbols meant. It was genuinely like being in school — and I think that unusual dynamic made people excited. Then, after that discussion, she shifted to talking about how that could apply to business/corporate settings, and many participants said they were going to integrate what they learned in that session that day. —Lilly Milman
Use shared documents to seek feedback and capture insights from large groups. —Anonymous [During the session we used Slido to capture insights.]
Use object voting. For example: “If you agree, hold up something in your office that’s blue. Neutral or undecided, yellow. Disagree, red.” —Kristin Arnold
Interaction with panelists
Be about something, have a position, be honest about it. Push up against the walls. Be kind. —Kristin Arnold
Have the panelist give us a tour, give a demo, go get an object (from a trip you have been on). —Kristin Arnold
Give panelists an object and ask them to provide a greater meaning to it. —Kristin Arnold
Coach your panelists on how to use the camera and speak authentically . —Kristin Arnold
To share the questions with the panelists or not?
I almost always share prep questions with my panelists. Mostly because my panelists are tech people and not always the best speakers . —Kelley Kassa
Provide a loose framework of where we want to go….some potential questions. Any specific questions that need some vetting… —Kristin Arnold
I always try to email topics with the caveat that we’ll ask follow-ups and make it conversational . —Kaitlin Milliken
I like giving the first question so they will be comfortable AND the last question, that can be recorded and edited into a social media snack. —Kristin Arnold
You have to really listen to what your panelists are saying…and make decisions on what to probe further . —Kristin Arnold
Ask panelists to bring one question to the panel to ask each other. —Kristin Arnold
Design for the audience & connections
There is NO panel without an audience. —Sarah Michel
In the midst of this global pandemic, people are attending virtual events seeking meaningful connections. We must design panels for that . —Sarah Michel
The moderator is a champion for the audience. Everything has to flow from the audience. How does this make them better people? —Kristin Arnold
IME, audiences love well-designed problem solver panels. —Adrian Segar
Interview the audience before it starts . —Kristin Arnold
Content is not king…it’s context and connections . —Kristin Arnold
Drive to action…run a poll – who do you want to follow up with? —Anonymous
Get to know the functionality of platforms. Offer alternatives. —Kristin Arnold
Use an online poll to start the session. —Anonymous
Leverage chat. It’s gold. Be on chat early and ask the audience to answer a question. Keep the chat open afterwards. I have a love/hate relationship with chat as neuroscience says that we aren’t focused on the conversation . —Anonymous
Casual or Formal?
There is a whole business of a production studio in a box that gets sent to a panelist… —Anonymous
Some corporations don’t want casual they want big production. —Anonymous
I’ve gotten the box sent to me for an event. Lots of rehearsals too. —Anonymous
I ask my clients what backgrounds/level of production they want… —Anonymous
More hybrid meetings in future
Small in-person studio audience and a much larger virtual. Curate the studio audience… —Sarah Michel
More ideas from breakouts via Slido
Love asking panel members (or speakers) to change their backgrounds when you want to shift the energy or when you go to live Q&A, etc.
Set up a shared “group notes” document where people can contribute their notes from the panel. You can even give a prize for best note-taker at the event.
Whatever goes wrong with A/V last time won’t happen next time…relax over technical glitches. They are bound to happen.
Conversations don’t have scripts. There’s a road map of where I want to go but need to go with the conversations.
When clients are technologically not especially comfortable, ask for ONE thing to do vs. the world of possibilities .
Don’t tell your clients everything you will be doing…as they will defend/say no.
Sometimes, a heads up might be appropriate so they aren’t thrown off .
Ask panelists to stay for networking time between sessions. That way, the audience can meet them and have one on one conversations.
Have panelists ask each other questions – they usually have great questions for each other.
Fireside chats…work with speaker to cut into small pieces .
Every 6-10 minutes switch gears, do something different .
If an online gathering has less than 20 people, consider starting with introductions. Moderator calls on each name: 15 seconds maximum.
If you’re not a subject matter expert, ask panelists in prep calls: What matters most right now?
What would you tell me about in an elevator?
Put a pillow in your lap if you have a little sound echo in your room .
When there’s content that is very technical in nature, ask questions like “please explain X as if you’re talking to someone completely unfamiliar with the topic”. [Me: I often open by stating that I know less about the panel topic than anyone else in the room—but I do know how to moderate panels!]
Be punchy, concise. Less is more. Provide a digestible premise that people are interested in.
Pre-record segments – edit down into more focused conversation. Or cut at key points and stop to interact .
To run fishbowl discussions on Zoom, have everyone turn their camera off until they have something to say. When they turn their camera on, they float to top of Gallery View That makes it easy for the moderator (whose camera is always on) to see who wants to talk. [See third link above.]
Use Zoom breakout rooms for “hallway” conversations after a panel. Put the panelists into one of those rooms after the panel is over so people can “meet” them. [Also consider using online social platforms for breaks and socials.]
Give frequent, small assignments: e.g. write down your biggest challenge. Use that as a start to the conversation.
When you do an A/V check, make sure panelists use the same equipment and time of day!
On Zoom train and teach all people to use the blue hand raise button instead of physically raising the hand . [Depends on group size; I prefer human hand raising if the group is viewable on one screen in Gallery view.]
Ask everyone to keep their camera on as a way of showing respect and being present.
Have a 2nd device ready…like your phone…in case of wifi or Zoom problems.
Pre-record sponsor segments.
Put into chat what you want attendees to do!
Ask people to talk about one favorite object from a trip.
Practice as much as you can and prep for props/interactive elements.
Using the visuals and doing things like physically leaning in can engage people and create intimacy.
Love Mural, having a quick and easy task to begin with to get everyone up to speed helps. —Caitlin Harper[I prefer Miro.]
Use a visual notetaker [aka graphic recorder]! —Caitlin Harper
If you wanna hear about Kristin’s brilliance with the CAPS conference last week…. we interviewed her today on Webinar Talk Show about all their ideas and how they pulled it off. 35-minute interview. Watch it…cuz she had soooo many good points about being engaging. —Thom Singer
Slido for polling and capturing participant ideas/questions/etc.
If you’d like to see what a business partner and I started for people like me who want to PRESENT rather than PRODUCE, visit livestream-denver.com. This is a work in progress and not a sales pitch as we work almost exclusively with clients in the Denver area. —Mark Sanborn
One of the best and simplest ways to build active learning and connection into any meeting is to regularly use pair share. (See Chapter 38 of The Power of Participation, or Chapter 27 of Event Crowdsourcing for full details.) I’ve recently noticed that in some circumstances, trio share — pair share but with three participants — works better.
Advantages of pair share
Pair share has a lot going for it. It’s the most efficient way to ensure that every participant periodically switches into activelearning, which, as explained in The Power of Participation, provides:
Pair share duration is minimal. I commonly allow each partner a minute to share their response. Including instructions, a typical pair share might take around three minutes. Getting every participant to actively think and respond to a question or issue in this time pays rich dividends.
Comparing trio share with pair share
A trio share obviously takes longer than a pair share, given the same sharing time per participant. The example above would require at least an extra minute. I say “‘at least” because it generally takes longer (at least at in-person meetings) to create trios than pairs.
In addition, the conversational directness and intensity may be less in a trio share, since each participant is talking to two people instead of one.
On the other hand, each participant is connecting with two other people, rather than one.
None of these differences is a deal breaker. In the past, I have tended to use pair share, simply because my time with participants is limited and pair shares are quicker.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, however, I’ve noticed something new.
When trio share works better than pair share
Ultimately, you can’t force adult attendee participation. Nevertheless, at in-person meetings it’s rare to have people sit out pair sharing. The reason, of course, is unspoken social pressure. Anyone choosing not to participate is obvious to the people around them.
When the coronavirus pandemic forced meetings online, I began to see more people avoiding session pair shares. I’d allocate pairs into Zoom breakout rooms, and, quite often, one or two people didn’t join their allocated room but stayed in the Zoom lobby.
As the host, I’d gently check in with those remaining behind. Sometimes they hadn’t accepted the breakout room assignment and would do so. But more often than not, it turned out they were absent (it’s hard to tell when their camera’s off).
Their unfortunate partners who went into the breakout room had no one to talk to!
At in-person meetings, this is easy to handle. I ask anyone without a partner to raise their hand, and then pair up isolated people.
Online, this takes too much time, and those without a partner suffer.
Using trio share instead of pair share online
So I’ve started using trio share for online meetings. There are two reasons.
First, trio share reduces the impact on “orphaned” participants. If one person in a trio doesn’t join, the remaining pair can still reap the benefits of pair share.
And second, trio share gently increases social pressure for attendees to participate. Bowing out of pair share affects one other person. Avoiding a trio share affects two.
Whatever you do, some people will opt out of small group work. Their reasons are — their reasons. We need to accept that. Switching to trio share for online work is a small tweak that seems to improve participation. And creating a meeting environment where small group work is more likely to occur is always worthwhile.
What’s your experience of using pair share and/or trio share at in-person and online meetings? Please share in the comments!
Creating anything, there’s a moment when you begin. Picasso is saying you begin without having a completely predetermined plan of what you’re going to create and the process you will use.
This doesn’t just apply to creating what we think of as art.
For quarter of a century, I wrote computer software. In that time I wrote and maintained around a million lines of code. Initially, I never thought of what I was doing as creative. I was writing instructions for a machine to process. The machine did exactly what I told it to do. How creative could that be?
My first inkling that programming might be creative came when I began teaching it. When the introductory class started, I gave students homework problems that needed perhaps ten lines of code to solve. To my surprise, I discovered that each student wrote a slightly different program. What’s more, within a few weeks I could look at one of their pieces of code and know who had written it.
As the problems got harder, it became clear that some students were more creative programmers than others.
This made me think about my own programs. I realized that I was doing creative work. Many of the programs I wrote for clients solved problems in ways that I had not foreseen when I started.
Another way to look at creating something is explored in my post Process, not product. All too often, we focus on a desired finished product, rather than the moment-by-moment process of creation. This is typical when we perform mundane tasks. Needing chopped onions for a vegetable stew, we automatically slice them, one more task on the list. The mindful person is one with the chopping — they “chop wood, carry water” [XinXin Ming].
Finally, there is a moment when you end creating something. Let’s be clear; creating something requires ending its creation. Billions of pages of never finished novels attest to this. Those novels never saw the light of day.
So, when do you know that something is finished? Before that moment, it’s almost impossible to predict! Afterwards, especially if it was a big task like writing one of my books, you may remember the moment. But don’t reinterpret that memory as something planned.
Creating something is much more mysterious than that.
By <a href="//en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pablo_Picasso" title="Pablo Picasso">Pablo Picasso</a> - <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="http://www.nationalgalleries.org/collection/artists-a-z/P/2628/artist_name/Pablo%20Picasso/record_id/2224">National Galleries, Edinburgh</a>, PD-US, Link
By <span lang="en">Anonymous</span> - <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="https://www.photo.rmn.fr/archive/98-021978-2C6NU0XWEWEW.html">RMN-Grand Palais</a>, Public Domain, Link