Remote workshops; there is no doubt that facilitating them is a challenge. Other than technological constraints, it is easy to get distracted. As a host, it’s hard to keep an eye on participants. These obstacles can be conquered by being adaptable, well prepared and intuitive to participants needs.
Hosting remote workshops are not an ideal setting. In-person workshops, where all participants can collaborate, and hosts are in control is difficult, even in the best of times. As technology progresses and the demand for remote working grows exceedingly, it’s understandable that fears about running a workshop online have also increased.
The idea of working completely remotely is still relatively new to many businesses let alone the expectation of being able to host entire workshops and meetings online. At times it can seem unnatural and counter-intuitive.
At Remotings, we have experience running workshops both in-person and remote workshops. So we have a treasure chest of knowledge to help you make hosting a workshop quick, easy, and stimulating for you and your participants.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as a host while running remote workshops:
Create a comfortable environment
Managing awkward interactions is a common fear for many remote workshop hosts. So it is imperative that participants feel relaxed and engaged throughout the session.
There are numerous methods to keep participants enthused and make the workshop run smoothly.
1. Break the ice
Begin the workshop with an icebreaker exercise to create a relaxed and calm atmosphere and set a friendly tone.
2. Keep the exercises short followed by quick discussion sessions
This ensures that participants are engaged and that as the facilitator, you can easily track their progress.
3. Ensure that workshop etiquettes are well known
This includes microphone and camera rules, chat rules and screen sharing.
4. Encourage physical activities
An unorthodox workshop exercise is to inject a bit of actual physical exercise to keep people moving and energised. It doesn’t have to be over the top, but anything that gets them away from their desks and the screen for a short period.
Understanding the software or platform whereby the workshops take place is one of the most common barriers for participants during remote workshops. To avoid this, we recommend that workshop hosts set some time aside at the beginning of the workshop to get the participants affiliated with the workshop tool. The issue with this method could be that it’s time-consuming and disruptive to the flow of the remote workshops.
Remote workshops preparation: Plan ahead of time
Once the technological learning curve is broached, it is important that a facilitator plans out the workshop. This ensures that things remain on track. A significant part of this planning is including participants in the goal setting for the workshop. This helps them become invested in the process and that you can track their progress.
There are multiple things to keep in mind when planning a remote workshop:
Determine the appropriate tools needed to facilitate the remote workshop
There is a myriad of online workshop tools available. The facilitator has to choose a tool that is at an appropriate level for the digital skills of the participants. Try using Remotings to facilitate your team workshops. Remotings is an online whiteboard web app, designed for hosting visual team meetings. Open a board here to try it out! No card or sign up required.
Define the purpose and objectives of the remote workshop
This should include a private personal goal setting as well as a separate goal-setting session. This includes the participants at the beginning of the workshop.
Perform a run through that focuses on the specifics of the remote workshop
Be it: group size, timing, number of facilitators amongst other things, weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of all options.
Create a schedule
Create an agenda of the activities including regular breaks. This should be shared with all participants beforehand.
Here are some alternative recommendations on how to improve facilitating as the host. Facilitators can:
- Ensure that participants are familiar with using the Remotings app before starting the workshop. This can be in the form of sending a mass email a few days in advance. Detail the features that will be used during this workshop.
- Record exercise tutorials ahead of time to send to the participants. These explain the features that will be used. The great thing about this method is that these videos can be re-used for future workshops.