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Digital Check-Ins in Virtual Negotiation

Doing a digital check-in can be one way to create essential human-human space and foster connection between two negotiation teams, even in very formal negotiations. A check-in is truly different from the obligatory round of introduction (name, position) though some forms include the introduction as a part of the check-in. This inventory lists some forms that can be used. Check-ins can take place in plenary form, or by deploying the much under-used breakout rooms which are a feature of nearly every digital meeting platform. They can be effective and brief in a short period of time.

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Name Dialogue

5 or 10 minute duo conversation in breakout rooms on the origin of one’s last name or the reason for one’s first name. Random breakout rooms work best with a check on team members meeting their counterparts rather than each other.

Circle of people interconnected by red curves lines. cooperation, teamwork, training. Staf


10-15 minutes exercise in which people of each team are put in breakouts of 5 minutes, each with a (random) member of the opposite team for a quick get-to-know each other. After 5 minutes the carrousel starts again with different pairs.

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City Talk

3-minute opening routine in which one side shows a visual of a site in the city where their HQ is based and provides commentary on why this is a special spot. Teams take turns each meeting to provide this opening as “digital host”. 

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Joint Playlist

3-minute opening of the meeting; in turns, teams add one song to a joint Spotify playlist; one addition per meeting with the song played when people are joining the video call. The joint playlist is a shared product that negotiating teams coproduce in parallel with the agreement.

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Image of the Day

5 minute exchange of the image of the day, a visual or oral description of the direct surroundings of one team member on each side. This can be as simple as a weather report or as inspiring as a close-up of someone's bookshelve. The purpose is two-way small talk before the formal start.  

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2-minute opening to take a moment to express congratulations, possibly by sharing a visual, on a national holiday the other side is about to have, a known birthday or the victory of a (national) football team the other side is supporting.

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Extreme Close-up

2-minute display by 1 participant of a close-up of a larger picture in which all other participants (from both negotiation teams) have to guess what the larger picture is. Zoom-out after 2 minutes. At the next meeting, a member from the other team does the same.

The way of the deal, humility and dialog

Contest Survey

5 min - pick any music, film or sports contest that is currently in the news (e.. the Oscars, Formula 1 racing, the Champions League final or the Eurovision song contest) and set up a survey through a tool like Mentimeter to measure who is going to win in the opinion of negotiators from both sides. Result: a witty piece of joint forecasting that can be verified in a next meeting.

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