How to Run an ‘Ask Me Anything’ Session on Your Intranet

By Simpplr Marketing

‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) sessions have proved very popular on social platforms such as Reddit, and are increasingly common within the enterprise as a way for employees to interact with management. In these sessions, individuals can pose questions on any topic in real time, using discussion forum functionality or the equivalent.

Running a session on your social intranet where leaders answer open questions in real time in a pre-agreed time slot can be an excellent way for employees to engage with senior leaders. Entering into an open and honest dialog helps drive a culture of trust and transparency.

Here are seven tips for running an AMA session on your social intranet.

1. Get buy-in from your management team

Before you move forward, discuss this idea with your CEO or senior management. Without their buy-in it will be hard to progress. Sharpen your arguments, focus on the benefits and show them you’ve thought about the process to give them confidence that this will work. You could also suggest a trial session or limit it in scope as a pilot.

2. Work out the time and channel

You’ll need to work out the best technology to hold the session. A social intranet is perfect because it will have the right discussion functionality and all employees should be able to access it.

You will also need to select the right time slot. Pick a reasonable duration, perhaps one- to one-and-a-half hours, to give sufficient time to go through questions. Also pick a good time when everybody is going to be less busy and thus able to contribute, for example at lunchtime. If you are a global organization, try and choose a time that’s convenient for multiple timezones, or consider holding more than one session.

3. Establish clear rules

To avoid misunderstandings and awkward moments, and to manage expectations, you need clarity over the rules of engagement. Before the session make sure you have clear rules around answering topics, conduct and so on. Publish these for all participants to see. You may also want to establish any features you include, for example you could chose to ask people to vote on the best answers by asking them to “like” responses.

4. Get your leaders comfortable

You want your senior management to feel comfortable about the session, to know how things work and what is expected of them. Holding one or two coaching sessions beforehand is always a good idea.

You can set expectations that they don’t have to answer every question, and get them used to the idea of being themselves so their interaction comes across as authentic. Show them techniques – even get them to use hashtags! Consider having a dress rehearsal beforehand if it’s the first time they have done anything like this. This is a session they should enjoy!

5. Publicize well in advance

Make sure all employees know about the session by promoting it on your intranet homepage.

Also encourage people to think about their questions beforehand. Get employees to submit some in advance as a starting point to get conversations going, or for use during the session if there is a lull. These will also help your CEO prepare. You could show these questions on a page as they accumulate to indicate the type of topics that are going to be covered.

6. Have a support team at the session

Although the focus of the session is authentic interaction with a CEO or senior manager, you should assemble an appropriate support team to be physically in the room with them during the session.

Consider having an internal communications person to give advice on how to answer, someone to look up information if necessary and an online moderator to avoid anything that is offensive or awkward.  This could even be the same person covering all three roles. Some CEOs might want someone else to type answers, although responses must still be from the CEO themself.

If there is a particular topic or issue that you know is likely to be covered,also get another leader or subject matter expert to contribute to the debate by answering questions as needed.

7. Follow-up by responding to unanswered questions and re-publicizing the session

Inevitably there will be questions that don’t get answered. Make it clear that these will be followed up afterwards, then outstanding questions can then be addressed on the social intranet. Try to ensure that the responses are as swift as possible.

The page with all the “Ask Me Anything” interactions will be great content. Ensure no employee misses out by promoting the page after the session as well as beforehand. This will also help drive attendance for the next one.

Do you have any tips?

We hope your “Ask Me Anything” session goes well! This is a great way to use your social intranet, engage employees and get senior leaders involved. We’d love to hear about your experiences about what worked and what didn’t. If you have any tips, please let us know by adding a comment. Good luck!

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