Community Building: Six Tips for Hosting a Great Live Chat

Here in GovLoopville, we really enjoy hosting live chats with interesting and cool interviewees. The more chats we do, the better groove we get into, but we’re not going to pretend we were born doing this. It takes practice. Maybe a bit like hosting a live radio show or being an emcee, you need to be really fast, on the ball, and not afraid to get carpel tunnel (jk).

Here are some of our lessons learned so you can bust our your inner Live Chat Host.

1. Invite people to the live chat and make it really easy for those interested to attend. The more participants, the more energy, better questions, and overall experience for all. Embed the live chat on the homepage of your website where it is easily found. Schedule it at a time when people are most likely at a computer (lunch time a good choice).

2. Schedule a dynamic speaker. Granted, this is a live chat, so there will be no audio. However, a dynamic speaker, like Mike Dover, author of WikiBrands, who spoke today on GovLoop will keep things fast paced (important), digestible, and thought-provoking.

3. Be brief, type fast, and cap it at 30 minutes. The key here is to keep things moving. People are staring at a screen so if the questions, responses, and ideas aren’t flowing, you’re going to lose them.

4. Explain how the chat will work. At the beginning of the chat session, briefly introduce the interviewee and explain the rules of the road. See below. Be sure to ask all participants to send questions privately to the host. Otherwise you’ll get too many interruptions.

5. Give the speaker a virtual “round of applause.” At the end of the chat, allow all participants who have remained quiet (other than to send private messages to the host with questions) to join in: “Clap Clap Clap” is pretty fun when 50 people are typing it at once :) This gives a nice sense of community, and certainly makes the speaker feel good!

6. Archive the chat. For those who can’t attend, provide an e-transcript of the chat. Now your chat will live on!

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