Digital Meeting Strategies

Digital meetings

The new reality of better, faster, and concise quality feedback from market insight has rarely mattered more.  Information is key to developing and mataining a brand image.  As a result,  brand strategists seek gain invaluable feedback in a timely fashion. But the difficulty of gaining feedback information on a digital meetings effectiveness can be a stumbling block.

At times it can be become more costly to attempt to expand traditional “live-meeting-only” approaches than to integrate new digital venues into current programs. Today’s meeting organizer has three general digital venue options, online conferencing,  webcasts, or an integrated Web-based discussion.

If you add to this list the growing role of the “background chatter” of instant Tweeting from within a conference or meeting to recipients across the globe, or possibly not even monitored by the organisers, a whole new world of information exchange opens up. This can even be an issue for organisers not fully aware of information security within a legal framework.

Online conferences and meetings where all participants are simultaneously watching and listening (via phone or computer) to the online presenters to either a live video stream, slides  or a presenter. With a small number of participants, you can follow the presentations with live discussions through open phone lines, but with a larger group, users type in their questions and a moderator passes them to the presenter to answer.

Webcasts require less lead time planning than on-site meetings, and eliminate the hassle and costs of travel and hotel logistics. They are particularly good solutions for meetings with fewer participants or shorter meetings. As meeting planners become more familiar with webcasting   technology, keep in mind that it can be difficult to schedule larger participant numbers.  Its also more difficult to obtain comprehensive feedback so it’s relatively difficult to create new relationships.

The Web-based discussion forum, is a secure meeting solution specifically designed to encourage interaction through an online community. These online communities are private, invitation-only forums that work by a collaborative approach. Eachuse must create a personal profile so everyone in the community can see who is participating.

Typically, meetings occur throughout the year as “engagement windows.” For example, a  special interest team wants to get feedback on a new development, the team will send a message to all advisers that there will be new information and questions on the community that require feedback within a time frame.  The team can post background documents for adviser review and then post a list of open-ended questions that advisers can consider before providing feedback. This allows participants and moderators to interact on their own time and can continuously converse within the forum depending on meeting objectives.

All three venues – live, webcast, online community, all have their place and in the future, meeting planners should look to integrate all three into a successful program. In terms of security of information, discussion are not as controlled in a live meeting as they can be in a digital meeting. Discussions during live meetings generally are not recorded, however, this may not be the case in an online debate or forum – or even from a participant Tweeting to friends and colleagues.  

The online or digital space can be challenging for many leaders with regulatory, legal, and compliance departments. Some of the issues to be addressed prior to holding a digital event include terms of use and other legal agreements for avoiding, monitoring, and handling any concerns.

So how do we move live conversation to a new digital venues? Key to the process is a good moderator. The moderator should know how to ask open-ended questions to spark robust conversation and be able to bring participants into the discussions.
In a webcast venue, the moderator must closely monitor adviser participation in real time. Online communities must be monitored regularly for participation, compliance, and content.
Another success factor is the refinement of content. Materials prepared for digital venues must be even better prepared for presentation in live meetings. The content must be provided in a format that is easy to review and is relevant to the discussion. Also, because content is often presented electronically, it is critical that you have appropriate confidentiality tools in place.

Digital venues are beginning to enjoy the convenience and flexibility that they offer. With some good planning, you can successfully hold meetings in the digital space while getting the feedback that you need.