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7 Lessons To Help Transitioning to Virtual Workshops Easier

By Steve Martin | Mar 30, 2020 |  Agile Coaching,  Agile Training,  Leadership,  Process

An image of a person taking notes during a virtual workshop.As a person who has a high preference for in-person workshops, transitioning to a 100% virtual delivery and facilitation has been an experience to say the least. However, there are a few things I learned in the last few weeks that helped make our workshops more fun and engaging. I’m sure there are many more things to learn, but I wanted to share sooner than later with all my colleagues and folks who are interested in delivering or taking a virtual training course or workshop. In no order of priority, my lessons learned include:

  1. Take a break every hour. I like a 10-min break. It’s enough time to check in on the other housemates (children, pets, etc) who may be a little too quiet (what are they doing…), grab a snack, take a bio-break, etc. Have a timer on the screen to show how much time is remaining.
  2. Video is a must. While some have resisted being on camera in the past, seeing people and their reactions helps establish a sense of community in a time of isolation.
  3. Keep your energy high, yet authentic. The people in my in-person classes give me my mojo. However, with everyone on mute and seeing faces, you don’t get the usual body language cues to keep you going. Talking to the camera takes energy. The 10-min break above helps restore some of that energy for me.
  4. Use breakout rooms. There’s a fantastic feature in Zoom where you can put participants into smaller groups (say, 4 or 5 persons) in their own private mini-virtual conference room to do small activities and discussions. This helps with engagement and deeper discussions, and helps break up an instructor talking for, say, 50 minutes straight…(yikes!).
  5. Use the voting icons in the participant window (if using Zoom) to gain feedback. Do they understand the directions for an activity before they head into a breakout room? Have they had experience in topic A, B, or C? Use the hand raise icon to get a sense of who wants to ask a question.
  6. Have a co-pilot. Things go wrong. My internet connection dropped three times in the final 30 mins of a two-day workshop. Having the co-pilot there helped continuity for the unexpected. As a co-pilot, we also can put helpful hints, tips, and links to further/deeper readings and videos to supplement what the main speaker is discussing. So, those that want more have a list of further resources available to them.
  7. Don’t just try to recreate what you do in the in-person workshops online. I think this is the most important lesson I learned. There are certain activities that just won’t work online (i.e. airplane game, etc.). Go back to your learning objectives. What do you want them to know or realize? Then, go from there. Get creative. We’ve had to introduce new activities and tweak old ones. While the new activities may not be all that sexy with the latest tools, they do help illustrate the learning needed.
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