Virtual Engagement

Engaging in a virtual world can be challenging. These are new and charted waters for all. Here are some tips and tricks on how you can build and maintain community in a virtual world.

Platforms: There are several platforms that can be used to stay connected with others in your organizations, classes, etc. across the world. The type of space you want to create will determine the primary platform you may want to use.

  • Zoom
  • BlueJeans
  • Google Hangouts
  • Discord
  • Skype

Socials: Building social spaces is so important, now more than ever. While we recognize that “virtual fatigue” is a major concern, there are several ways to create spaces that can incorporate activities for folks to feel a sense of community.

  • Netflix Party – Watch Netflix from your account with your friends online.
  • Binge Together – Watch Prime Video, Disney+, and more with your friends online.
  • Metastream – Watch internet videos with friends – includes support for YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and more!
  • Rave – Watch Youtube, Vimeo, Reddit, Google Drive, Dropbox and Viki together with friends. Combine phones to create an instant speaker system / international karaoke night. Users can also create new content with Rave DJ to compose seamless mashups from user-selected songs.
  • Codenames

Meetings: Figuring out how to run effective meetings in a virtual space can be challenging, but here are some simple yet effective tips to keep in mind that will help make it run smoothly:

  • Adding handouts or an agenda that can be shared ahead of time or through Zoom’s chat or Share Screen feature increase understanding and information retention of participants
  • Incorporate an easy check-in question or activity that helps break the ice and gets your group members to feel more comfortable with each other in the first 10-15 minutes of your meeting (remember: virtual fatigue is real so jumping right into business may not be most conducive to productivity)
  • Record your meetings, in addition to having meeting minutes—this is helpful for those with different learning styles when they are unable to attend a meeting

Events: While you may have attended virtual events already, planning and implementing these may be something totally new for many of you. Here are some things to consider during the planning process and throughout your event.

  • Programming over 45 minutes is most successful when it involves an interactive element such as a group poll or involves breakout rooms (if in Zoom)
  • Keep programs to 30 minutes or less if you plan only a speaking presentation
  • If you are considering having a moderated discussion, be intentional on who your moderator is—some folks are more comfortable with in-person events vs. virtual events
  • If you are considering bringing an outside speaker (or any speaker for that matter) or having a panel discussion, similar moderators, you should consider their comfortability with virtual events before booking or confirming them
  • If you are considering any type of Q&A session, it is important to mitigate or limit the number of unexpected “interruptions”
    • We suggest identifying a way to have questions submitted ahead of time especially if this will be on a more public platform like Facebook or Instagram live. Other platforms, such as Zoom webinar, have advanced capabilities that can assist with this.
  • Accessibility needs are just as important in a virtual space as they are in an in-person space. Consider using captioning features, when possible, during your live or pre-recorded event.

Civic Engagement: With the 2020 Election taking place on November 3, it is important to be able to still find ways to connect in meaningful experiences that promote civic engagement. Additionally, NSOAI has established this year as the “Year of Civic Engagement” for this year’s incoming class. Below are resources to connect your groups to.