Virtual Tools We Are Loving… And Ones We’re Not

During our recent August member call, we shared feedback and thoughts on the wide range of virtual convening tools that have come on the market. Many of these tools have pluses and minuses that make them either a “yay” or “nay”, but what’s clear is that they aren’t always “one size fits all”. It’s important to consider your specific organization’s needs so that you don’t waste your time (or money!) with tools that won’t suit your purpose.

These are just a few of the discussion points our participants made about specific platforms during the breakout sessions:

  • Zoom, WebEX and GoToMeeting – although they don’t have all the bells and whistles of other platforms, they’re a go-to because they get the job done. Several people shared that it sometimes becomes boring to have the same format of meetings using the same platforms. Alternatively, we need to find innovative ways to use the same platforms in different ways, instead of being swayed and jumping around to the newest, shiniest platform to come out.
  • Several participants have been using Remo. The concept is great, but they still have a lot of technical elements to smooth out.
  • Zoom + Mural are both great for workshops & mentoring entrepreneurs.

Key thoughts:

It’s important to ensure the tool is fitting the need that you have for your participants and your convening in general. This is especially true when ot comes to generating new connections – don’t try and make a tool fit a particular type of interaction.

Platforms that increase organic interaction between participants:

  • Hop.in – offers the ability to create your own rooms.
  • Air meet – this platform gives you the ability to create your own meeting tables.
  • Icebreaker – 1:1 chat but it has its place – it’s great for just doing an icebreaker, to have people connect 1:1, and get to know each other individually. A great use of this platform would be for resource-sharing connection individually.

Key thoughts:

Think about tools that help you, as a convener, to facilitate purposeful connections through matchmaking and affinity grouping.

Other key considerations

  • Virtual Expo halls – there are an infinite number of ways to use these. You can adapt and mold these as needed, based on your convening goals. If a tool has this feature, they usually feature it prominently on their website, so it’s easy to see what platforms offer it. 
    • One example of this feature being used creatively is with Net Impact’s Virtual Leadership Bootcamp. They are using the expo hall feature as breakout rooms.
    • Consider utilizing virtual expo halls as green rooms. This would give you a way to provide exclusive spaces to invite people into, and the ability to host a special Q&A with speakers before or after a presentation. This saves time and effort when it comes to coordinating this type of interaction.

Key takeaways:

There is no one tool that has all the features you may need, but virtual convening has provided some liberation from having to do everything in one time frame, during one event. You now have the ability to break things apart and tailor them to the types of interactions and events that help you accomplish your convening goals.

Check out our upcoming events, and join us on the next member call.