Three Tips for Encouraging Online Debate

We’ve talked a lot about our two platforms in previous blogs: The Longitudinal Expert Engagement Plan™, which lets you easily customize a communication schedule for your members, and the Impetus InSite Platform®, which gives your members a singular portal to communicate with you and each other over the lifespan of a board or group.

The common thread is communication, and in a board or a group setting, the best form of communication is a healthy debate. You brought your members together because you respect their opinions and you want to hear them. And you want your members to consider the opinions of every other member. That’s how you get to where you need to be.

But remember that all we can offer you are the tools and the guidance. It’s up to you to get the debate going, steer it in the right direction and keep it going right through to the live meeting.

Three Tips for Getting an Online Debate Going

1. Give Your Members Something to Debate About

We’ve seen far too many board/group leaders try to encourage debate with facts. It doesn’t work because facts are generally not up for debate. Instead, you should be putting opinions or positions out there for your members to consider.

NO: The literature says the number of osteoporosis cases is expected to rise 18% by 2025. Do you agree?

YES: The literature says that the number of osteoporosis cases is expected to rise 18% by 2025. Can patient education reverse this trend?

In the second example, the advisors/doctors are being asked to extrapolate based on a fact. And because this is happening online, your members have the time to research their opinions and come back with comprehensive viewpoints that lead to further debate.

2. Call Out Specific Members

One of the main benefits of an online tool like the Impetus InSite Platform® is the record-keeping aspect. Everything anyone every contributed is there for you to refer to when creating new content. So if one of your members added something particularly valuable, you could repurpose it, use it as a launching pad for a new debate and engage a member directly, which greatly increases the chances of them responding. One response leads to two, then four. And before you know it, you have a full-blown debate.

Last month, Dr. Johanssen brought up an excellent point about our new positioning brand name being too close to the competitor’s. We’ve done some tweaking. What do you think, Dr. Johanssen? And what do the rest of you think?

3. Show Them How It’s Done

When you pose a topic for discussion, there’s nothing stopping you from tossing out the first viewpoint. In fact, it’s wise for you to do that so your members get an idea of what you’re looking for from them. But remember that how you respond will set the tone for how others respond. The more comprehensive you are, the more comprehensive they’ll be.

Do you have other ideas for encouraging debate? We’d love to know them and so would our readers. Feel free to add them to the comment section below.