This is a summary of tips based on an interactive event “Conversations and Connections” series. It’s focused on “sparkling conversations and connections by asking questions”.
Do a little research before asking
Before asking someone your first question, get to know them a little bit by reading the “About me” section on their profile. Take note of any shared interests from what they post and comment.
Make it all about them
Focus on what the other person cares about. As an example, start with a polite question about their opinion on a specific post, ideally about a topic they’re interested in. Use the comments section of the post. People generally respond positively when asked about their opinion. To spark ideas, think of questions about “who, what, when, where, why,” or ”how.”
Use polls for large groups
If you’re asking a large group a question, try using the poll feature. Yes/No polls are inclusive and beneficial for sparking questions and connections. I like using polls that have ongoing relevance and remain active for a long time. Simple yes/no polls are also easier for people to follow and can overcome language barriers. Here’s an example
Ask a question in your posts
You can also use a question in the title of a post to spark interest – for instance, ask peoples’ opinions about travel, food, or other universally appealing topics. If you’re talking to an audience with a specific interest, ask them a question on that topic. Here’s an example I’ve used: “Have you danced on the ice at Lago di Braies in winter?”
You can also add an engaging GIF or another image to go along with your question. For example, you could ask “did you have fun?” paired with this GIF
Ask from the heart
Be respectful, polite, professional, neutral, and genuine. These best practices help to drive a good conversation, attract more attention and more contacts.
Respect the silence
Users may choose to remain silent for many different reasons, but that doesn’t automatically make them unwanted contacts. We can do the best when we don’t judge silence. The reason for silence could simply be that the person does not wish to disclose private information.
1. Plan your questions
2. Know your purpose
3. Open conversation
4. Speak your listener’s language
5. Use neutral wording
6. Follow general questions with specific ones
7. Focus your questions so they ask one thing at a time
8. Ask only essential questions
SUSTAINING ENGAGEMENT THROUGH INCLUSIVE CONVERSATION
Use grounding topics
To foster inclusive conversation I use what I call grounding topics. They can be discussions around personal experiences, growth and education, professional growth, relationships, health, causes, culture, art and technology.
Empower Moderators to drive a conversation
Moderators play a crucial role in providing a welcoming atmosphere. Community members love it when different Moderators start discussions, each in their own voice and tone.
Stay on topic and listen
I’ve observed situations where first impressions prove wrong. This happens when we are distracted instead of staying focused on what others are saying. What helps with inclusive online conversations is the following: 1) Stay on topic and don’t be afraid to remove off-topic content. 2) Listen and ask questions to fully understand what others are saying. This is especially important online as we can’t see facial expressions or body language. 3) Be clear and to the point. 4) Stay away from arguments
Online conversations give us the opportunity to educate ourselves, broaden our perspective and transform our thinking. It goes back to our true interest and genuine curiosity.
Utilize different levels of discussion
Conversations can be categorized into different levels of information exchange. I compare them to steps in a staircase, classes in school or rooms in a building. You start with welcomes and introductions in the entryway, perform backend research in the kitchen and study, and share expert opinions in a meeting hall. Utilizing different conversation levels will foster an inclusive atmosphere while providing members with exciting opportunities to learn and grow.
Comment on Hold For Review (HfR) content
When you comment on a community member’s (HfR) content you are starting a 1:1 conversation rather than a community conversation. This safe environment works especially well when a community member posts inappropriate content. You can explain why their content doesn’t work for the community while preventing the post(s) from appearing to other members. The poster feels safe and included and can potentially become a more effective community member.
- Support Diversity – through international and cultural represented membership.
- Explore Other Communities – get involved with other Communities and invite members and influencers from other Communities to lead initiatives.
- Know what’s up on the platform
These are interactive events I was leading in the public Google owned Communities “Aspire” and “Moderators”