Top 10 Tips for Optimizing Asynchronous Virtual Meetings

We recently shared our top-10 creative ways to engage your advisors and most important advisor questions. In Impetus Digital’s third top-10 list, we focus on how to optimize asynchronous virtual meetings and ask effective questions.

1. Ask open-ended, indirect questions

For InSite Exchange™, the Impetus InSite Platform’s interactive discussion form, we recommend avoiding closed “yes/no” questions and instead ask open-ended questions with descriptive words such as “describe,” “explain,” and “compare.” It is also useful to always ask the participants to provide the rationale for their response.

Some participants may feel compelled to tweak their responses in order to meet perceived expectations. For this reason, instead of asking direct questions on what the participants think or what they would do in a certain situation, consider asking less direct questions. For example, ask how they think their colleagues or patients would view a particular topic. 

2. Be consistent when using scales

For InSite Surveyor™ (survey-style) questions, carefully examine the scale increments you decide to use and, to avoid confusion, be as consistent as possible with scales among different questions. Never invert scales so that, on a scale of let’s say 1–5, “1” is “highly unlikely” in some questions but “extremely likely” in others. 

3. Ask blinded questions to minimize bias 

Some questions are not suited for open discussion. If there is sensitive information involved, for example when collecting information about participants’ clinical practices, questions can be blinded. Depending on the nature of the question, there is also the option to hide others’ responses until the participant has answered a question. This limits “groupthink” and bias, and is a great way to make sure that everyone gives their honest and full opinion on something rather than just agreeing with their colleagues.

4. Stay pithy and on point

People are being pulled in every direction these days. Staying focused in the age of the smartphone and social media is near impossible in multi-hour meetings. For this reason, we always recommend frequent, short touchpoints over a single, long activity. Likewise, for medical education, research has shown that micro-learning is superior in many ways. The above applies both to asynchronous and synchronous activities, although we have noticed that participants’ tolerance for 3-hour web meetings has increased since physical distancing guidelines have been in place.

Within an asynchronous touchpoint, we also suggest breaking up longer questions into either separate questions or multiple sub-questions (i.e. parts a, b, c) in order to categorize each concept into discrete buckets. We also recommend including no more than three sub-questions per question in order to minimize confusion and participant fatigue.

5. Pick a theme and stick to it

For the best flow, organize your questions by category or theme, and do not mix too many different topics into one touchpoint. You and your participants are best served if you “build your story” over a series of touchpoints vs. overwhelming them with a gigantic list of questions. This moreover lets you incorporate insights from previous activities and shifting focus as needed based on feedback from your participants.

Where possible and applicable, include pictures, graphs, charts, slide decks, or videos to portray information in conjunction with your questions. These not only provide immediate clarity for participants when responding, but can also help grab their attention.

6. Inject a bit of “fun” into your asynchronous touchpoints

We typically recommend adding a break or some fun relief into your asynchronous touchpoints, especially if longer than 1 hour. This can come in the form of a “random” question, quiz, or brain teaser. Taking a brief reprieve from the seriousness of the assignment allows the participants to refocus. This also adds a layer of separation between different sections or topics. Finally, it can be a great opportunity for participants to bond over “silly” things like favorite pizza toppings or best TV shows to watch in quarantine.

7. Do some role-playing

In Impetus’ experience, participants respond well if you ask them to take on the role of “influencer” or “educator” and explain to you how they would explain specific topics to either their colleagues or other health care providers in different roles or specialties.

8. Hire a moderator

Impetus’ data show that including an expert moderator in asynchronous touchpoints can significantly increase participant interactivity and engagement. Moderators are prompted periodically to log into the portal to review participants’ comments and reply to them, with the goal of fostering a robust online discussion.

9. Leverage a variety of asynchronous tools

We have already touched on InSite Exchange™ and InSite Surveyor™ above. These are two of our most versatile and popular tools, and for good reason. However, the Impetus InSite Platform® offers multiple other asynchronous tools that can help take your touchpoints to the next level. Depending on the goal of your Longitudinal Expert Engagement Plan™ (LEEP™), the touchpoint may benefit from an annotation or selection tool. Other times, an interactive widget or “gamestorming” activity may help make the touchpoint more engaging and produce better insights. Finally, some topics may require intense problem-solving; for these, adding a tool such as Impetus’ “Six Thinking Hat” tool is useful.

Impetus Digital’s team of customer engagement experts will work with you to determine which tools will help optimize the level of participant engagement, interactivity, and quality and quantity of insights collected.

10. Be creative

Finally, be creative! Asynchronous touchpoints on the Impetus InSite Platform® are not just for advisory boards and team meetings. Why not engage your participants through OLAs, journal clubs, case study discussions, post-(virtual) conference debriefs, patient journey mapping, or treatment pathway profiling? It sounds cliché, but the possibilities really are endless.