This 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
Hotseats where one of the great enagement tools that where introduced into the Communities of Practice platform. And they are now starting to make a welcome return in the Knowledge Hub.
I have roped one of my collegues who has facilitated a number of hotseats over the last two months to go in the hotseat next Thursday and share his experience.
I’ll also share the outcomes from the hotseat.
For me it’s always great when you can get a guest in to your group to show everyone what they have been upto rather than me suggesting things they can do.
But if your have never heard of a hotseat before and what to give it a go this is a quick overview of what they are and where I adapted it from.
What are hotseats?
Hotseats are a useful tool that can be used within an online group; it enables participants to ask the person or persons in the hotseat questions, which they can post over a set period of time.
Normally these questions and answer session are hosted within the forum to help capture the responses.
Who goes in the hotseat?
The person(s) in the hotseat range from experts in their field, practitioners wishing to share and practitioners looking for advice. The hotseat can last for as long as is needed but most range from 2 hours to a full day. This is very much dependent on the depth of the issues and time commitments of the person(s) in the hotseat
Different types of hotseat
They are multiple ways that the Hotseat host(s) can present to the members. They can be based on a discussions article, presentation, video clip or panel debate.
How is the hotseat supported?
The hotseat host will be supported by the group facilitator who will:
- Alert the members of the hotseat session in advance, through the events calendar, in the monthly round up or newsletter if appropriate, and by contacting members who would benefit from taking part.
- Assist the hotseat host to register, set up a profile and sign into the group, if they are not already a member.
- Advise on how to gain the best response from the topic
- Provide a contact email address and mobile phone number for technical support
- Create the hotseat on the arranged date
The host should:
- Aim to answer questions within the time period of the hotseat. If there is a need to check the facts or seek other information then normally a holding statement is entered to reassure the respondents that they have not been ignored.
- Acknowledge when a respondent has introduced an idea or information which could influence the thoughts on policy – it is a powerful motivator.
- Establishing the right tone is essential for success, valuing the participants will build long term goodwill and encourage them to return.
- As the dialogue builds – check back for any responses to the responses – these may be higher up the page and will be flagged.
As the Hotseat ends
At the end of the hotseat period the facilitator will place a closed notice on the hotseat at the end of the forum and in the title text and ask the host to provide a concluding statement which normally includes a thank you to all the contributors and will reflect on the nature of the dialogue and any insight gained.
Any outstanding replies can be posted or sent directly to the facilitator and these will be sent on to the host.
The facilitator will arrange for a summary to be produced which will show clearly the questions asked and by whom and the responses made by the hotseat host and send a summary of the dialogue to the hotseat host for approval. This will then be published to the document library
Adapted from the National School of College Leadership Hotseat Guide
Thanks to Richard Millington atfeverbee for the great blog about Information overload in online communities. Its good timing as usual as I look back on the online discussion for the Social Media Weekon the Knowledge Hub via the#localgov gets social group
It was so successful that it broke one of the forums that we where using and had to start another thread.
Richard Millington mentioned in his blog that Jones et al. (2008) (don’t you love academic referencing?) found empirical evidence that information overload significantly constrained interaction between members.
They discovered that 40 participants interacting within 20 minutes was the maximum number which could be sustained.
As the volume of messages increases. Users are:
1) More likely to respond to simpler messages (shorter, dumber, fun).
2) More likely to end active participation.
3) More likely to generate simpler responses.
40 participants might not be the exact number, especially within forum platforms.
But there is a number…and that number is very important.
Beyond that number the quality of interaction plummets, the number of active members plummets (in favour of fewer, highly active members, posting silly comments to each other).
Your mileage with any of these routes will vary. What’s important is the number. It exists. It might be 40 participants in 20 minutes, it might be 100 in 10. Make sure you identify your number and prevent information overload.
Thanks to Richard this is something that I’m more aware of now.
Over the years we introduced a concept called the Hotseat to the Communities of Practice platform where it “enables participants to ask a person in the hotseat (usually an expert in the field) questions to which they can respond over a set period of time”.
And this will continue within the Knowledge Hub.
So why is all this important. Well during our session led expertly by @mick_rea and @jamie_kirk on the topic of the role of social media in local government. In a two hour period we had 27 participants, 190 contributions and over 1000 views.
So make sure that if you have a hot topic for discussion that you allow enough time to stop the information overload, which will allow a greater chance of participation.
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