5 months of intense video-conferencing
- 25. August 2020
- Posted by: Ingrida Jotkaite
- Category: News
The impacts of COVID-19 in recent months have been far-reaching, changing the way we organise our everyday lives, the way we work, and the way we connect with family and friends. In just a few weeks, we were forced to abandon our routine, our comfort zone, and find new, socially-distant ways of getting things done. This new normal has included video conferences in the place of physical meetings and new definitions for the workplace in which the kitchen table becomes a working desk. COVID-19 has pushed us as a society to make use of digital means more frequently and extensively than ever before. In recent months, we have also seen a significant increase in the number of projects on OPIN, which we are very happy about.
At “nexus” we had to digitise a wide range of participatory activities originally intended to take place offline: from smaller workshops and transnational meetings to larger conferences with more than a hundred participants. The audiences varied significantly in terms of age and levels of knowledge. We used several video-conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, and WebEx to hold meetings online.
From this experience, we have five learnings we want to share with you:
Trust your audience: Young participants get it quickly
The activation of young people is often considered to be more difficult than other target audiences who are more acquainted with participation in general. However, when it comes to digital participation, young audiences also feel more at ease with the tools and platforms. They navigate effortlessly through interfaces, often more quickly than older users.
Take it slow, explain things in detail and repeat yourself
Nevertheless, it is key to explain things in detail and step-by-step. When we communicate face-to-face, we can sense a lot of non-verbal reactions. They are little but immensely valuable hints as to whether your audience has understood you or not. Taking it slow in crucial moments, for example when you introduce a new working phase in your online workshop, ensures that everyone understands the important details. Share your screen and show the process step-by-step. Prepare templates that include instructions. It is ok to repeat yourself.
Create a space for private conversations
Of course, participatory workshops can be productive, but side-effects can include compromising personal exchange, new networks and a lot of fun. These are important aspects as they keep everyone motivated and makes communication easier. There are different ways to facilitate a little bit of informal exchange among participants. You can create space for private conversations in breakout rooms or ask participants to share something funny on a dedicated online pad.
Take a break before concentration levels hit rock bottom
Sitting in front of a screen is a task in itself. You have to keep still, stare at the screen and concentrate on new information. It is tiring (and even boring) after a while. Even though discussions may seem urgent, don’t forget to take breaks. Otherwise, you will lose participants along the way.
Take advantage of digital documentation means
Being able to access different tools and documents simultaneously is a real resource for your documentation. You can invite participants to write down the results of their group work directly in a collaborative document, copy the questions asked in the chat and work together on whiteboards. All of these digital tools can help you to develop thorough documentation while you are holding your meeting or online workshop. This can save a lot of time.
Source: Max Westbrock, nexus Institute for Cooperation Management and Interdisciplinary Research