Techniques for Encouraging Virtual Conversations

In a previous blog post, we talked about the idea that advisory boards are about more than live meetings. In fact, section 8.1.3 of the Rx&D Code of Ethical Practices explicitly says so:

 An advisory board consists of a continuous relationship with a limited group of Stakeholders that meet on multiple occasions during their mandate to advise Members on different aspects of their business.

Our impetus for Impetus was to create an online channel for advisory boards so you wouldn’t have to rely on live meetings to engage your advisors. Our Impetus InSite Platform® makes virtual brainstorming easy by opening up an asynchronous communication channel for your members to connect and debate.

But there is a knack to keeping the conversation going. Here are four tips to encourage a continuous conversation:

Be Present

When someone makes a comment, respond right away ⎯ which is easy to do using our Impetus InSite Platform® platform. They should feel like you’re in the room with them and that you’re listening.

Reinforce Positions Taken

You may not agree with everything your advisors tell you, but agreeing or disagreeing isn’t your job. Your job is to hear. So demonstrate that you heard. Even if it’s just a reiteration of what they said. “Excellent comment, <Name>, I like how you looked at the issue from a patient-focused angle.”

Prepare to Pivot

One of the benefits of the Impetus Longitudinal Expert Engagement Plan™ tool is the ability to pre-plan a board’s activities for an entire year. But it’s also easy to change it up on the fly. If a member brings up an issue that wasn’t on the schedule, you can (and should) change your game plan to account for it. Again, this demonstrates that you’re listening, but it also gives your members the feeling of a fluid conversation.

“Yes, and….”

“Yes, and…” is an improv comedy technique that keeps skits going by never letting a “no” shut down a train of thought. On stage, it keeps awkward silences from occurring, and online it is no different… So if someone on your board adds a comment, build on it with a “yes, and….” comment:

Them: I think the study design should have been a little different.

You: Yes, and if we had been able to do this, what would you have done differently?

Your “yes, and…” remark doesn’t necessarily have to be actionable. It should just keep the conversation going so others can weigh in as well.

Do you have other tips for keeping a virtual conversation going? If so, add them to the comment section below for everyone to learn from.