This post is part of a series about interactivity in meetings “When Everybody Contributes, You Get Awesome Results: Boost Interactivity In Your Meetings, Trainings and Events!”. The introduction is here.
We analyzed in previous posts why you need interactivity, how you should structure you agenda and how to twist technology to fit into the frame and serve you and your guests.
But hey, you may still think that this “back-channel” is a disturbance for the speaker and that it may be risky to display all comments live. You may still be tempted to keep comments hidden, and display them only at the end. Or filter them.
Let’s state it clearly: if you don’t display comments live or if you filter them, it will NOT work.
All the organizers that did differently experienced very little interactivity, low engagement, and very few comments, typically one tenth of what they should have otherwise. So how to do it at best without disturbing the speaker and make sure all comments are relevant?
FOLLOWING COMMENTS LIVE
It is not the duty of the speaker to follow the comments live. Our recommendation is that the Master of Ceremony fulfill this role.
When relevant questions pop up, the MC acts as the spokesperson of the audience and asks the question to the speaker or to the panelists. Easy to do for panels, but for single speakers, they need to be prepared and have planned enough “breathings” in their presentation to make interactivity occur smoothly.
Of course some speakers are so comfortable on stage that they will be able to follow the comments on their smartphone or tablets while delivering their presentation. For common situations, we advise nonetheless that the speakers focus on their presentations and that audience management be left to the MC.
THE MASTER OF CEREMONY GETS TWO NEW FUNDAMENTAL ROLES
First, the MC must become the spokesperson of the audience, quoting relevant comments or questions. The best way is to cite the name of the guest, along with the message. If possible, push this message full screen too. The more comments or questions are quoted live, the better: it provokes a chain reaction and motivate the other participants to contribute as well. It creates an instant reward for posting a comment.
Second, the MC must make the speaker comfortable with interacting with the audience. Help clarify questions, ask the questions at the right time, highlight the topics that interest the audience the most. In this way, the MC helps the speaker stick to the audience expectations.
On the other hand, if questions are not picked-up timely, or if the MC lets the speaker drift away from the audience concerns, interactivity will stop, the number of comments will drop, and people will leave frustrated.
The role of the MC is therefore absolutely crucial to engage the audience. Interactivity will be at its best with a skilled and trained MC, who will make the speakers, as well as the contributing participants, shine brightly.
To learn about the ideal setup configuration, watch this video.
SHOULD YOU MODERATE?
You cannot tell people to express themselves and contribute, while doing censorship. It does not work!
As soon as you make sure that the author of every comment is identified, our experience shows that you do not need to moderate anymore. With ConnexMe, we display the photo, first and last name of the participant, along with the message. Except when there is strong antagonism or crisis, you will never need to moderate.
ConnexMe is used in internal seminars, trainings, external events, conferences with clients, training, meetings: we have never observed a single inappropriate comment. On the contrary, when the organizer uses the comment filtering, we have observed many frustrated participants.
However, when Twitter feeds are imported into the event comment stream, we advise to moderate since 90% of the tweets are pure noise (retweets, description of the stage…).
A REAL-LIFE EXAMPLE
ConnexMe was recently used on a conference, with a highly visible CEO interviewed on stage. There was a moderator backstage, to filter the comments that were displaying on the screen right behind the CEO.
The CEO said at some point “there are 33 million servers in the world for…”. A famous blogger in the audience reacted by posting “33M servers? I had 800M, and here is the link to prove it: …”.
Now imagine you are the moderator: if you press the green button, this comment is displayed in big right the CEO; if you press the red button, the message is filtered. What do you do? Green or red?
The moderator sweated intensely and ended up tapping the red button. The minute later, the blogger fired his next comment “so when this CEO speaks, no one is allowed to comment anymore!”. He threatened the organizer to post this on Twitter: the organizer stopped moderating immediately and let all comments be displayed on screen.
What this example shows is that is impossible to decide properly what to filter and not.If you want your participants to contribute, you cannot censor them. At all.
Fortunately, as we saw in Key #2: The Screens Are Your Best Allies, identified comments allow to bypass moderation. It is a great way for the organizer to be relieved from the burden of filtering every message while getting high quality interactivity.
The Master of Ceremony is crucial: get a savvy, trained MC to ensure the success of your event. Keep the snowball growing, do not censor! With the right approach, you will trigger a chain reaction that will bring the interactivity of your meeting to the next level.