How to successfully have a great online video discussion.
I have hosted hundreds of one-conversation dinner parties over the years.
Moderating a great discussion by video has a lot of similarities to moderating a great dinner party but there are a few key differences.
Quiet is golden
When hosting a great dinner party, you want to make sure you are in a quiet room so everyone can hear each other.
When hosting a virtual discussion, sound quality is also very important. You want to have a discussion with the microphone on for all participants. The conversation will be much more organic if no one needs to be on mute. That means all the participants need to be in a quiet place or have a very good headset.
Best discussions are 5-12 people where they can all see each other
The best discussions have 5-12 people. The more the people, the better the skills needed for the moderator.
Everyone should see everyone in the discussion so it is important that you view people in “grid view” (rather than speaker view). Another nice feature of video chat is that they usually can put the people’s names on the screen (analogous to having nameplates for good dinner discussions).
How to do online Introductions
Usually when getting people together that do not all know one another, you go around the table and everyone quickly introduces themselves. This is a good idea for virtual meetings too but it requires more moderation as it is not clear who is next. The moderator needs to jump in (“thank you Bill. Susan: you’re up”).
Norms for discussions are important
Just like a great dinner party, you need everyone to show up on time and be engaged and present. For virtual discussions, everyone needs to be present and not checking Twitter or another screen while the discussion is going on.
A good moderator needs to enforce these norms and call people out that might be straying or looking less engaged.Continue reading