Building rapport is key to collecting quality data. A safe environment where participants feel their opinions are valued encourages them to openly express their thoughts without fear of judgement or making mistakes. In remote sessions, the layer of technology between the moderator and participant increases the difficulty and importance of creating that connection. There are three areas in which to focus:
Although always a good practice, establishing expectations and communicating background is especially important during video calls due to the limited interaction and context. As in any session, cover the basics such as the session flow, confidentiality reminders, questions, etc. In addition, remote platforms heighten awareness of specific factors that should be addressed:
- Coworkers or stakeholders in the call – Let the participant know that you have colleagues listening in who are interested in their feedback. If the attendee list is long, consider livestreaming the session to reduce the number of people in the meeting.
- Notetaking – Inform the participant that you will be taking notes, so if you are looking away during the session, you are not ignoring them.
- Tools – Give the participant a heads up if you will be using whiteboarding tools, prototypes, etc. and briefly discuss the expected participation.
- Session recording – as always, let the participant know you will be recording and why.
- Background questions – After the introduction, leverage the background questions to further create connection and set the tone for the session. Showing interest and warmth puts the participant at ease and makes the interaction feel more natural.