Apr 03 Delivering a Remote Workshop Experience that Rivals Meeting In-Person
The rapid pace of change amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging many of our “how’s” in our professional and personal lives: how we communicate, how we collaborate, how we continue to move strategic work forward through uncertainty when we can’t be creating in person. Despite having to adjust how we work, the reason why we work remains the same – to deliver on our promises to the customers and team members that we serve. Our clients are industry leaders who are not only adjusting to meet the evolving need of their customers but are working diligently to maintain the momentum to achieve their strategic goals. As work shifts from office to home, we are coming alongside our clients to pivot how they work — the mindset, tools, and process — so they can continue to work toward their why.
The most fundamental way you can maintain momentum is through intentionally designed workshops. We’ve found that leading a fully online session can be even easier and faster than in-person. This is largely due to a reduction of time used to physically gather in groups, and the ease of timeboxing conversations and reclaiming attention. Like many organizations, we use Zoom due to its simplicity and thoughtful user-experience. One of our favorites features is its breakout room feature — it instantly divides a larger team into smaller groups, and then when it’s time to wrap up whatever you are working on, as Zoom host can start a 60-second countdown to bring the full group back together. This structure helps the team focus on the goal of the work and the race against the clock helps reduces side conversations.
What can be more challenging in a remote workshop than in-person one is fostering a culture of collaboration. When facilitating, it’s essential that accomplishing the goal of the activity is not the only focus, but also encouraging all participants to share, contribute, and listen. Establishing a collaborative culture on a videoconference with participants you might not know and who might not know each other can be challenging. For this reason, we recommend starting the workshop with an engaging icebreaker like “What is a skill you learned as a child that you still use today?”. This invites each participant to speak and allows you as the facilitator to put a face to a name. Take note of each participant’s name and role and pay attention to who you hear from throughout the call and who’s voice you’d like to hear more from. Take the responsibility of calling people by name who haven’t had the opportunity to share on the call. With so many participants on one call and the limitation of not being able to read the room, it can be easy for some voices to go unheard.
Our Digital Facilitation Checklist
Leading remote workshops that are easy, fast, and collaborative requires having the right tools and processes in place so that during the session the focus can be on the participants. We created a high-level checklist to help you prepare for your next remote workshop so that you can keep working towards your greater why even through uncertain times.