If you type ‘YamJam’ in google, you will eventually see a jar of jam made of yam, a tuberous root vegetable, that is purple and is being used in a variety of desserts mostly in the Philippines.
You might wonder what all this has to do with the digital workplace? Well, if you look further down in your google search results, you’ll eventually also find a logo of Yammer, the enterprise social network recently bought by Microsoft.
YamJam is the name used by many Yammer networks to define a focused online discussion, where a group of people get together at the same time to share ideas, questions and views usually on a single topic. YamJams can broadly be considered like online press conferences with everyone having a voice.
We’ve just conducted our first-ever YamJam and I wanted to share some findings for those who would like to conduct similar online events (in Yammer or any other enterprise social network).
“To be prepared is half the victory.”
(Miguel De Cervantes)
- Start by choosing a topic and a speaker.
- Define your audience (public or private) and create a group dedicated to YamJams.
- Pick up a date and send a 60 minutes appointment to all participants.
- Choose a topic to tag all posts (usually a #tag).
- Create a page where participants can add questions before the YamJam.
- Announce the event well in advance using regular internal communication channels (emails, posters, intranet) as well as your enterprise social network. Clearly indicate when the YamJam will happen, what it will be about and provide some guidance:
- Say what to expect
- Provide a link to the page where participants can add questions
- Give tips to use your enterprise social network (login, refreshing the screen…)
- Remind participants that the YamJam will be accessible even after the event allowing them to come back at any point to continue the discussion
- Establish a YamJam team that will support the speaker during the event and will
- Prepare links to materials that might need to be shared during event
- Prepare short welcome and closing messages
- Test, test, test in a dedicated group
- Contact champions and stakeholders who might be involved in the conversations and ask them to be online during the YamJam.
“The way you cut your meat reflects the way you live.”
- Start by getting the YamJam team together in a room:
- The speaker will answer questions and participate in the conversation
- The YamJam manager will manage the conversation, point the speaker to new questions or comments and ask the questions that have been posted by participants who are not be able to attend the live event
- The YamJam ‘DJ’ will monitor the conversation, ‘like’ messages, add the #tag to all posts and will also provide tips for participants
- 10 minutes before the YamJam starts, send a reminder email to say that YamJam is starting soon!
- On time, let the speaker kick of the event by welcoming everyone and setting the scene (this is when to share the short introduction message prepared in advance).
- If nobody asks a question, start the conversation by using one of the questions that participants added to the page in advance.
- Manage the questions as they come in
- Have one single question per thread to keep the conversation organized
- Look carefully at notifications to avoid missing any questions or comments
- Try to keep the pace of the conversation slow enough for participants to follow
- Ensure that stakeholders are @mentioned by the speaker
- When the end of the hour approaches, let participants know that the YamJam is about to end and allow one last question before thanking the speaker and everyone involved.
Keep the momentum…
- At the end of the YamJam, post a poll about the event (Did you enjoy it, would you like to see more…?)
- Compute a few key success factors and share statistics about the event (we did it using an infographics).
- Gather feedback in regular internal communication channels and already start planning for future YamJams.
I hope that following this recipe will lead you to illuminating YamJams with great conversations and creative thinking!
PS: Our YamJam was made possible following great advises on how to get your Executives to participate on Yammer.