People have two choices when presented with the opportunity to participate. The two choices are either participate or stand back and observe. When I say ‘participate,’ I mean activities like typing in the chat during an online event, asking questions during the conference, playing a game during the reception, or talking to a stranger.
If they watch too long, a gap opens, and it becomes more challenging to participate. At some point, perhaps not participating becomes awkward. So attendees are stuck between a rock and a hard place. It is too difficult to gain the momentum to bust in and participate, and at the same time, not participating feels weird. (It would have been better to stay home on the couch eating carbs binging Netflix.)
When you have an event that requires or is better with tons of participation, it can be helpful to encourage participants to jump in right away, so the gap never has a chance to develop.
One of the techniques I use to close that gap is to pose a super easy question that has no wrong answers within the first 30-60 seconds of the event’s start. Then, I might move on to a quick and easy brainstorming type of question and encourage people to give one-word answers. Type your answer into the chat, write it on a post-it, or shout it out. Let’s all keep adding new words until we can’t think of any more. I hope these two questions demonstrate that participating is safe, fun, and worthwhile.
When participation is the goal, think of all the ways you can give your members a friendly nudge to join in.