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Technology Tips for Engaging Remote Participants

July 02, 2020

The remote activities that are happening today via video and social technology platforms – workplace team collaboration, student education and even the good ol’ happy hour – are things that would have been unfathomable a handful of years ago.

The forced adaptation of our circumstances to virtual interactions has uncovered a wealth of technology that is bound to find a permanent home in our portfolio of communication tools.

For the first time, our own NASPP Conference will be fully virtual this year, and the technology behind it is mind blowing. Gone is the traditional “sit and listen” webinar of the past that featured a PowerPoint presentation and audio-only access to speakers on a one-way basis. With abundant opportunities to engage and interact, virtual technologies are finding a place in my heart.  For more information on NASPP’s Virtual Conference (it’s going to be awesome), visit our conference page.

Participants need communication about more than just crisis updates

While many of us are focused on virtual collaboration across workplace teams, we must not forget the stock plan participant. I suspect many companies have been communicating through their traditional channels about COVID-19 related changes or impacts, but what about keeping on track with planned communications around award vesting events? Or, continuing with the meeting you had contemplated to promote the ESPP? Even in crisis, we should not lose sight of our long-term objectives. Our equity plans are still here, and participants need quality information that goes beyond the crisis messaging.

Now is the time to take the education of your participants virtual in a way that informs and allows for interaction. With technology in mind, let’s explore some of the available options:

Choose a meeting platform that has an app

Most of the major players in online meeting technology have an app for mobile devices. With many employees operating on a remote basis outside their typical office environment, access to technology may be happening via multiple device formats. Ensure your meeting is accessible via a variety of devices.   

Know the difference between a web meeting and a webinar

Admittedly, I’ve used those terms interchangeably in the past. However, they are not the same and can result in very different experiences for the participant.

A web meeting tends to allow for more participation from attendees. This format is ideal for scenarios where the presenters want to engage with the audience. We have been using this format for many of our chapter meetings.
Online video conferencing provider Zoom describes a webinar as the online equivalent to a large lecture hall or auditorium. Typically, the format is a presentation of information and attendees do not interact with each other.
Both formats can work for participant education but be sure you know the difference before setting up a meeting.

Enable Q&A features

Most online platforms have a Q&A function. In some cases, this is optional. When participants can have questions answered, this increases engagement with the material.  

Use Polls to Interact

Creating a handful of polls, strategically placed throughout the presentation, allows the participants to interact with information you have just presented. Polling questions would be set up before the event and a planned part of the meeting.  

Go live on social media. Get your executives to participate!

One of the most frequent questions I hear right now is: “How do I maintain contact with executives and other management within my organization who are outside of my direct team?” Perhaps these are people you saw in passing at the office but are now lacking in opportunities to interact with them.  

There are so many places to “go live” these days. Workplace from Facebook, for example, offers a live platform for companies that is more oriented towards business needs while still providing social feeling opportunites. 

Live social media events can be a great way for leadership to get some face time with employees. There are abundant features in the live technologies that can allow participants to react, comment and ask questions. With some companies still dipping their toes in the social media waters when it comes to employee communications, using this remote work experiment to test live, informal interactions could be a window to a new era of employee engagement.  
If operating a remote workplace has taught us anything, it surely has opened our eyes to a myriad of platforms to help us step outside of low engagement communication formats and into greater interactive opportunities. Consider some of these choices in keeping participant communication alive during shifting times.