Enact’s 10 practical tips for online stakeholder engagement

March 2020

In the past few weeks, Enact has had the opportunity to explore, experiment and engage with a number of online tools for stakeholder engagement. Along the way, we have gathered tips and tricks which enable us to deliver online content in an interactive and engaging manner, most recently with a successful stakeholder dialogue for our client HEINEKEN.

Here are our top 10 tips for online stakeholder engagement

  1. Use the right online tool

Here are some of the tools we use  for different online engagements:

  • Zoom a very useful platform to conduct stakeholder dialogue with great facilitation tools such as virtual break out rooms; raise hands function; ; individual and group chats; a virtual waiting room etc.
  • Prezi has introduced a video recording function which is really easy to navigate and allows you to import ppt’s in a very nice way.  Very useful for recording lectures or training sessions (one way communication).
  • Howspace is an online learning platform, which has great possibilities for interactivity between participants.
  • Mentimeter a good and playful tool for interactivity in sessions.

Consider how you can combine and integrate these tools as for optimal effect.

2. Be prepared

Hosting an online session is hard work. It requires a lot of focus; you must project positive energy through a screen and you receive less energy back since you get less reactions, body language etc. Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure your screen is at the right
  • Prepare a script or cheat sheets in such a way that you can read them but your camera doesn’t record them (hang them above the camera).
  • For a long meeting, have something to eat and drink within reach.
  • Think about lightning, participants must be able to see your face well.
  • Run a test session with a colleague to make sure all functions you want to use are working. As a participant your colleague will also see the difficulties with using the tool from “the other side”.

3. It takes two to tango!

If possible, make sure that you are at least two people co-hosting the meeting. That way, one can focus on the content and facilitation of the dialogue; the other can be on standby for technical difficulties, preparing of virtual break up rooms etc.

4. Use separate screens/rooms

Make sure when you hold the meeting that every participant joins from his/her own screen and preferably in separate rooms. This creates a level playing field and ensures full focus from the participants

5. Prepare your participants

Allocate time before the official opening to make everybody feel comfortable with the technical equipment and the rules of online meetings. If there are specific functions you want them to use (virtual hand raising, chats etc.) , explain them before the meeting and make sure the participants test them out before you start. Be overly clear in your explanation and talk them through every step your mouse is making on your screen.

6. Use the chat function

If there is a chat function that you can use during the meeting, this is a great tool for several reasons. It allows participants who don’t want to comment orally to contribute in written form and it immediately gives you a record of what is being said. It can also be used for poling or prioritization purposes.

7. Use strict timing for discussions and virtual break up rooms

In some tools, like zoom, there is an automatic timing for breakout-sessions. Use it! If you don’t have it, enforce it manually. This will help you to keep the time and makes it stricter and more organized than an IRL meeting, since people cannot easily delay the meeting.

8. Have a break

If you are running a long session, make sure to schedule breaks for people to stretch and get a coffee.  It’s hard work online!

9. Record

If it is possible to record the session, this will give you the possibility to edit the video afterwards and make it available for later review. Ask all participants explicitly if they are okay with being recorded.

10. Dare to have fun

Just because it is online, doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Some tools come with built in functions which allow you to be playful (for instance virtual backgrounds); or you can integrate a live Word Cloud, Kazoo or quiz in your meeting to get more interactivity. Make sure to test everything out before you start and then use it to get the right energy in your meeting.