Silence: Rules of Thumb

Keep Reading →

If silence is important to encourage engagement by participants in webinars and online meetings AND if facilitators/presenters cannot rely on visual cues like we do in face-to-face situations…how can we know how much time to allow for participants to respond?

There are several factors at play:

  • what type of response you want (a simple Yes/No, a simple choice between pre-determined options, a complex choice between pre-determined options, a one-word answer, a short written answer, vocal response, a complex comparison, etc.)
  • what tool you will use to gather those answers/responses (poll, chat, whiteboard, etc.)
  • participants’ familiarity with the online tools
  • participants’ familiarity with the content
  • how many individuals are participating

So what can you do to insure that everyone has a chance to get their two cents in without losing those who are quick on their feet to other distractions?  Consider the chart below (click to enlarge).

Screen Shot 2013-09-10 at 11.15.26 AM

CHECK IT OUT:  Do an experiment with some colleagues.  Have them participate in a webinar that includes a variety of activities.  Time how long it takes for them to respond to each activity and afterwards, ask for their subjective experience…how did it feel as a participant?  Was there enough time?  Did they feel rushed?  Was there too much time?  Did they find themselves drifting away from the webinar?  Did they need/want some clues about the timing (e.g., stating “90 more seconds”, a countdown timer)?

See Silence: What’s Going On?

UPDATE:  The more webinars I do the more I realize how little wait time I am actually providing the participants.  Recently I had the opportunity to use a platform which gave me a timer for polls.  I started noting how long it took participants to register their poll answers.  Consistently it took at least 30 seconds more than I typically have allotted for the first participants to provide their response!  For example, Yes/No response times were 60-90 seconds (instead of the 30 seconds I had been giving).  CHECK IT OUT:  Use a timer to track how quickly answers start coming in and how long it takes for a majority of the participants to respond.  Use those data to inform your practice for future webinars.

Creating Consensus – Making Magic Happen Online

Keep Reading →

I am always delighted to watch how, when using the ToP methods, a wide variety of disparate ideas are shared, refined, categorized and agreed upon. The structure of the methods makes this process effective and seem almost magical. But can that magic happen online?

This week I had the pleasure of working with a large mental health services company to begin the process of revising their leadership development program. Using Adobe Connect, 13 company leaders met to discuss and agree upon the essential skills and abilities needed for a leader to be successful in the company’s context. Using the ToP methods approximately 40 distinct ideas were shared, discussed, and prioritized in small groups. Through an iterative process the ideas were clustered, clarified, and categorized into 6 groups. By the end of the 2 hour online meeting the leaders were able to agree that, for them, the categories of skills and abilities they developed represent the essential skills and abilities needed by leaders in their company.

Did the magic happen online? Yes! It did. Did we learn that we should do some things differently to make the methods more effective in the online environment? Absolutely.

What is the “technology” part of Technology of Participation?

Keep Reading →

Many have come to think of technology narrowly…in relation to the internet and electronic devices.  But the term technology has a much broader meaning.

The word technology comes from Greek τεχνολογία (technología); from τέχνη (téchnē), meaning “art, skill, craft”, and -λογία (-logía), meaning “study of-”.[1].  So, by that definition, the Technology of Participation would be the study of the art, skill or craft of participation.  The group of folks who created, refined, and codified the Technology of Participation were just that…students of participation.  Their observations of how individuals participate in group processes led them identify some naturally occurring structures which were utilized to foster comprehensive, grassroots community development.  These structures were the foundations of what has become the Technology of Participation group facilitation methods.

Go here for a brief description of the ToP methods (click Full Screen).

Impact: Moving from Talk to Action

Keep Reading →

We’ve all been there.  Lots of great brainstorming, visioning, and discussion…leading nowhere.  When you spend precious resources of people’s creative energy, time away from the work, and money…you want to see results.

There are many methods of holding discussions, building consensus, developing action plans, and creating strategic plans.   For maximum IMPACT all constituents should be involved in the conversation in meaningful ways…unearthing their creativity, fostering their investment in the process, and garnering their commitment to achieving the end result the group envisions.  All of the conversations should lead to great ideas AND to action that creates and sustains the vision.

The Technology of Participation (ToP) methods of group facilitation foster these processes and results.  ToP methods have been used to achieve results with large corporations and villages, in the US and across the world, involving individuals from all walks of life.  Click here for a brief introduction to the main methods (view full screen).

World Cafe

Keep Reading →

Amy Lenzo of the World Cafe has begun facilitating conversations using a conference call technology that allows her to send individuals into small group calls while maintaining the ability to bring all of the call participants back together as a whole group. This image represents a harvesting of the conversation that we had on February 3, 2011.