Conducting and leading workshops takes refined skills of leadership, communication, delegation, and a variety of others. People who possess these skills are usually effective workshop facilitators, but what about when their workshop is no longer being led in person? While this change can cause confusion and disorganization during your activities, it doesn’t have to. Below, we will outline some simple yet effective techniques to lead an amazing virtual workshop. If you’re new to virtual workshops, we recommend taking a look at our comprehensive guide, and if you are looking for more in-depth suggestions, take a look at our article detailing the best practices of virtual workshops.
Virtual Workshop Techniques
Create your Agenda
The first aspect of running an amazing virtual workshop comes into play before the workshop even starts. Creating your agenda before the meeting begins is a great way to communicate expectations to participants and stakeholders alike, and can help your entire team start off on the same page. Coordination of thought is vital when collaborating and can be harder to come by when you are working virtually. Setting a clear agenda not only gives people an idea of where your workshop will take you, but also helps structure people’s thought process so they can participate effectively.
Integrating your agenda through multiple mediums, verbally and through a shared interface, demonstrates how central it is to your workshop’s efficacy. While using a tight agenda helps with the structure, it can also provide you with flexibility. You can plan out specific sections where your team will do a non-work activity, or if you improvise certain points you can quickly regain focus and stay on track. Implementing a detailed agenda allows you to organize your workshop collectively and enables you to an run amazing virtual workshop.
It is naive to think that a virtual workshop or meeting will reach the same milestones if you continue to hold it like you would an in-person meeting. Well, you don’t have to hold it like an ordinary meeting! One of the great flexibilities virtual work allows for the use of a litany of diverse and effective tools, that you might not think to use in a physical setting. These tools enable people to work collaboratively and can increase your team’s efficiency if utilized correctly, and some good examples of tools could be Mural, Miro, or an overarching program like Microsoft Teams.
Seeing as these programs are new and foreign to your work, it is important for you to brief your team on how they operate prior to your actual meeting. This could come in the shape of a fun activity using the tool, that shows the functionality before they need to use it for work purposes. It is also important you utilize the full capability of these tools, they have a lot to offer and can stimulate people’s creativity in different ways. By integrating tech where it’s applicable, you can transform your virtual workshop into something far more effective and creative.
Make it Personal
One of the biggest struggles of online meetings and virtual workshops is their lack of personality. This is nothing new, and when you’re separated from your teammates, you feel less connected to them. Instead of letting this connection slide, you need to make an active effort to connect with people and let them know you are engaged.
This can mean doing icebreakers so people have a fun outlet to start the meeting, creating channels of communication outside the video call so people can ping each other about questions or comments, or just creating low-pressure non-work chat, granting people the freedom of socialization they would usually have in the office that is lacking online. Making efforts to personalize workshops is common and not only helps take your productivity to the next level but creates a happy and open environment for your team as well.
Less is More
When you are conducting a virtual workshop, attention levels can easily wane. It is important, then, to present your information in the most efficient way. Work on saving time during a presentation or slideshow without cutting corners, and reallocate time where it will be used more efficiently. This allows you to prioritize areas that need more collaboration, and skip ones that are easily understood. Keeping motivation high is an important part of gathering effective outcomes, and one good way to do this is to provide new and interesting meeting formats and keep your meetings as short and sweet as you can. Obviously, you can’t always have a super short meeting but, when it’s possible, try and keep your meetings to a reasonable length.
This doesn’t just apply to your meeting length, but also other aspects as well. An example of this would be keeping your diagrams simple. Using a simple diagram can allow everyone to synthesize the data and main points quickly, without wasting time understanding what they’re looking at. If you do need to use a complex diagram, using a tool like Mural can allow everyone to focus on specific points and navigate it at their own pace. The same thing goes for data: when you keep things concise, people grasp it much quicker, saving everyone’s time and energy. Truncating and synthesizing your workshops is vital in the virtual setting, and does much more than just save you time.
Our last technique is similar to the first but on the other side of the workshop. Being very clear about the delegation of responsibility can be critical for your team’s extended success. This could be something as simple as planning a couple of action items for each person and putting those in your chat or as complex as utilizing a task management tool to organize your entire workspace. It is more important that whatever you end up using, it enables your team to function fluidly and communicate with ease. Either way, being able to verbalize and engage everyone in the next steps is a great tool to carry forward the progress from your workshop and extend your ability to collaborate virtually.
In order to run an amazing virtual workshop, the first step is embracing the fact that you aren’t able to conduct it in person, and then using that to your advantage. There are many methods you can utilize to revamp your virtual workshops and take them to the next level, and I hope this review allows you to do just that.