Archive for June, 2012

Getting someone in the hotseat (Part 2)

June 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Chair on FireThis is quick summary of the Hotseat I facilitated the other day all about hotseats.  Some really great insights on how to facilitate a hotseat from real facilitators.

Question:  How do you get the person on the hotseat to type fast enough to keep the flow of the discussion going? CW 

Answer: Having two or three ‘hosts’ sitting very near to each other, but with each one having their own computer. That way you can talk to each other to allocate the questions as they come in, then answers can be typed simultaneously. IC

Tip:  Regarding spelling/typo’s type the response (or question) in Word first allows for a quick spell check before copying and pasting MW

Tip: Having a panel of people answering questions is always a good idea. Not only because it means the answers come a bit more quickly, but also because it stimulates the debate straight away LC

Tip For remote hosts using a little bit of coordination (calling or emailing each other) will stop any mixed messages. LC


Question: What do you believe is the optimum length of time for a hotseat? IL

Answer An hour’s a bit too short, and two is a bit too long! I guess it depends on the anticipated interest in your topic. Timing is also an issue. It’s good to run the hotseat over, or at least partially over, lunchtime.  Also best to avoid Mondays & Fridays due to some people not working full weeks. IC


Question: How would you suggest is the best way to go about promoting the hotseat so the hotseat doesn’t fall flat and the poor hot seater is not sat twiddling their thumbs..? MW

Answer:  I try to make sure I message my potential audience about a week in advance, then re-message with a quick reminder on the morning of the hotseat. After 10:30 so most people have deleted their overnight email spam.

Also, I like to have a few ‘seed’ questions lined up to post IC


Question:  How many speakers should I have? Should I have several around one theme or one major speaker? IL

Answer I’d say one per theme would keep things a bit better structured. If you have more than one, and they are in different locations, I can imagine them both coming up with different replies & posting at the same time, which would give mixed messages, and not make the hosting organisation look too joined up.

If everyone’s in the same room & talking to each other, then no problems!  IC

Question: What sort of feedback have you had and do you have any anecdotes from people about how they’ve used info from hotseats to inform their own work going forward? LC

Answer: I get great feedback from when a hotseat is well attended. When it is less so, it’s a bit of shame, but not too bad when we consider that many others will have been quietly viewing it, and the attached documents will be useful for ages, long after the hotseat is over.  Plus, there’s also the money you’ve saved by not having a UK-wide meeting or conference! IC

Answer: We got positive responses from people about the hotseats. Three of them had also been trailed by a video clip from the “speakers” that formed part of the resource, together with in all instances a document – either a research report or guidance document that had just been launched. Together with two webinars (much more expensive), they were intended to be an alternative to a conference. Personally I’m not sure we should compare them as you get different audiences, different interaction and a different end result. What do you think? CW

Info: Estimated avoidance costs compared to face to face event exceed £2000


Question: Getting the person in the hotseat comfortable with this way of working can be interesting. How do you go about making sure the person in the hotseat is comfortable and understands what they need to do? MN

Answer: I make sure I have a good chat with the host, getting them to go over old hotseats etc. I make sure they’re comfortable with the concept and the practise, and let them know that I’ll be lurking in the background (on-line) to help if needed.  I tell them (& do) note who’s posted & when, then tick them off when I see they have replied. If they get swamped I can email or call them to alert them to anyone they’ve missed.



Question: What have you found to be the best way to promote your hotseats? Has social media got an important role, or are more traditional forms of communication more powerful? SM

Answer:  It’s predominantly email that I use to publicise the hotseat. I do stick them up as ‘event’s on the knowledge hub, but I’m not sure if that’s effective of not (I need to run an experiment!). Also just started to try out twitter. IC


Question: You mentioned that some people might face resistance to hosting (and I suppose taking part in) a hotseat. What kind of things have you heard people have an issue with? Also, have you ever used images, video or audio in your hotseats? LL

Answer: I do encounter some people who are not at all comfortable with the concept of the hotseat. I just take my time & talk them through it, assuring them that they won’t be spammed for ever after or have their bank account hacked!

I do use YouTube videos in my hotseats. The one I did today had a video intro IC


Question Have you notice increased traffic and interaction between members (comments/posts) within the group after hosting a hot-seat, or does this tend to remain fairly static? DM

Answer:  I’ve not seen it after the hotseat (though no reason why not) but during the hotseat it’s  REALLY good if audience members start having (on-line) conversations amongst themselves.

Usually it’s very helpful & work-related, which benefits all taking part & gives me & the host a bit of a breather. It’s also good to hear from other people, rather than just the back & forth, host – participant type of Q&A.

Maybe I should consider sighing off my hotseats with something that encourages such activity, rather than my usual ‘this hotseat is now closed’ line?

Thanks for the idea. IC

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