By Alison Roper

For far too long, virtual workshops have been considered second best to face-to-face learning.  However, new technology is now enabling highly engaging and interactive virtual workshops which can have the added benefits of being low cost, and time efficient in terms of minimising travel time and time away from the office.

Here are our 5 tips for maximising the impact of a virtual workshop, based on our recent experiences:

1.  Preparation

With virtual, as with face to face, it’s all about the preparation. Here are some things to consider:

  • What is the purpose of the workshop?
  • Whose perspective and buy in is critical?
  • Where do we need to be by the end of our conversation?
  • What do people need to think, do and feel as a result of the workshop?
  • What can be managed via pre-work?
  • Publish the agenda ahead of time so people have time to reflect.

2. Design with Participation in Mind

When you are creating the agenda, you need to create with participation in mind.  People enjoy multi-tasking so use that to your advantage. Harness the capabilities of the technology to create polls, utilise the whiteboards for real time collaboration and have some fun with introduction questions such as favourite holiday location, alternative dream career or even what shoes you are wearing.

3.  Enable Video

Once the meeting gets started make sure everyone enables their video– remember 55% of the way we communicate is body language so being able to see people’s faces and gestures makes all the difference. It also means you can use Post It notes for things like agree and disagree (a simple cross and tick that people can hold up to the camera)

4. Manage Energy Levels

Virtual working requires more concentration.  So take temperature checks during the session to see how engagement is and whether people need to take a break – you can manage the energy by using the tool to create a state change and it’s fun to get up and stretch as a group too!  It’s also important to check in with your group at the end of each topic that they are ready to move on – “are we aligned and are we ready to move on?”

5. Manage Silence

During a virtual workshop we want to avoid the “dreaded silence” as well as everyone talking at once. A simple way to manage this to let people know you may call on them by name during the session to answer a question or give feedback and explain there will be a rotation for everyone to speak (alphabetical order is a simple one)

Virtual workshops can be rewarding and engaging so give it a go! If you would like more information about virtual workshops, virtual facilitation or anything else virtual, contact alison.roper@management-dynamics.com