Managing your audience (Part 1)

When managing an audience in online collaboration challenges, managers and administrators frequently overlook the easy things they can do to improve efficiency and generate better results.  That’s because it’s easy to forget some of the simplest rules of communication and make mistakes that take away from the project’s success.

Motivating Your Audience

According to Bill Truettner, an Imaginatik innovation solution specialist, the main obstacle in an online collaboration is getting people excited to participate in it.  People need to be genuinely intrigued and interested in order to want to learn more or contribute to a cause. They need motivation.

Ask: “Is it worthwhile?”

Why should they spend their time on this?  What’s in it for them?  How is this going to help them in the future?  By answering these questions, you can convince participants that it’s worth their time and energy to be involved.

Ask: “What’s stopping them?”

Conversely, it is crucial to know why people would be hesitant to take part in a challenge.  For example, many people are uncomfortable with sharing their ideas in a public forum for fear of disapproval or backlash.  If you understand that this is going to be an obstacle, you can reassure them that it is a safe environment and make them comfortable with the idea before the challenge opens.

Leadership is Key

Another major difficulty is the appointment of a “point person,” an executive sponsor who will be both visible and vocal about the challenge.  This person should be available and responsive to questions, comments, and suggestions.

Understanding Needs, Wants, and Expectations

Creating a personality profile of your audience is a great way to understand its wants, needs, and expectations before the challenge begins.  Ask about the company culture.  Is it expected that people take part in innovation challenges?  Is it considered extra work?  Are there lay-offs on the horizon that would make people nervous about participating?

Different groups require different information.  Knowing your audience will let you communicate in a way that is most effective for your challenge.  Being vocal, responsive, and encouraging from the beginning will help get people interested and involved in your online collaboration challenge and will make the process more successful.

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