Tools and methods for engaging differently
The possible ways of engaging people when you can't do it face to face includes all the innovative online tools – but also less high-tech methods like postal surveys and telephone interviews.
These offer alternatives to overcome digital divides.
When planning any community engagement, it is important to ask yourself the following questions:
- Why are you engaging with people?
- What do you need to know?
- Who should be involved?
- What is the best time to engage?
- Where is the best place to engage?
- How should you engage?
Our Participation Toolkit sorts the tools depending on whether they are suitable for engagement face to face and/or at a distance.
Digital tools for engaging at a distance
If you decide that digital participation is appropriate for your engagement project then you will need to decide which tools to use, as well as keeping in mind the access and inclusion issues.
Traverse provides an introduction to online engagement platforms including surveys, polls and discussion forums.
Involve's digital tools for participation blog also describes a range of digital tools, with the useful reminder to:
"Keep in mind that these are all engagement "tools", not "solutions" — whatever some might claim. Your planning and preparation, and approach to using them, are at least as important as the tool you pick."
For us, the key thing is not what tool you use to engage with people and communities, but how to make it accessible and meaningful. We will be pulling together tips based on our own experiences and those of others, and they will be added to our website over time.