General strategies for creating space for informal interaction
Create a sort of “homeroom” for participants: a group of maybe 3-5 participants who are grouped together solely for the purpose of providing support and a social interaction, not related to the content of the deliberation, necessarily. Idea would be for this group to spend a little bit of time just checking in with each other at the end of the day, or even doing fun things together.
Open the virtual space 10 to 15 minutes before the session starts and inform participants that this space is available for informal interaction
Create a forum where participants can introduce themselves, their viewpoints, or ideas before the online deliberation even takes place. This way participants are already a little familiar with each other.: https://medium.com/@PaulVittles/digital-deliberative-participative-democracy-the-future-is-here-now-9e7746fa9fdb
Create a WhatsApp group for participants to interact before and during the whole process, only with few moderator rules and tips about the expected behavior.
Create connection before content: For smaller groups: have all participants run to find an object in their house that is “representative of what they bring to the world” and then have them show and explain why the object they picked does that. This helps break the virtual barrier because it requires participants to interact with the physical world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkxBoMZV3Wk&feature=youtu.be
On time meeting management
Some research suggested that when facilitators who carefully manage the relevancy of meetings, time (starting on time and ending on time), psychological safety in meetings, and true freedom of speech, participants reported more engagement overall.
Six tips for leaders to make meetings better
- Starts with a steward mindset
- Create healthy time pressure (go for shortest time reasonable)
- Manage meeting size small (allow non-essential members to out by giving the opportunity to provide input)
- Start meeting good atmosphere
- Try alternative formats
- Evaluate your meetings periodically
Build engagement by design
- Speak to folks before the meeting (as for engagement from non-talkers)
- Establish norms
- Pair work before the meeting
- Collect and then synthesize people thoughts
- Meeting apps for anonymous voting
The Surprising Science of Meetings | Dr. Steven Rogelberg | Talks at Google https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWIlZosXxCM
What not to use or do
Strategies for adding a little FUN into the deliberations
Democracy Co (Australia): have happy hour online the night before
Online games that participants could meet and play with each other “after-hours.” What kind of games, though? And how organized?
Do stretching/yoga online
Carson: teach people sign-language signs — one per session
Carson: give people a task to do while they’re on the break: “find something in your house that is ____” — just as a breaktime activity.
Carson: play music for people during breaks or before or after
Carson: do two truths and a lie
What not to use or do
Strategies for helping less-tech-savvy participants feel more at home
See “homeroom” idea above. – Potential opportunities to interact with the physical world: show-and-tell as get-to-know-you exercise, using physical post-its and paper that is mailed to them. – Potential to have some interactions over the phone, rather than on videoconference.