10 Tips for Running a Successful Remote Workshop
With the recent events unfolding, we’ve now gone ‘digital-first’ and moved our team remote, just like many other organisations. Living up to our value of being futurists, we’re adopting tools and processes to make sure we continue to collaborate effectively with our clients and each other.
Faced with the challenge of running a series of interactive client workshops online, we tried a digital tool called Mural. Mural allows teams to visually collaborate via online canvases. From running these workshops, we thought we’d share some of our key learnings and tips to help others do the same.
1) Have a clear agenda with planned breaks
And make sure you set a timer! It’s easy for group sessions to veer off topic even when you’re in the same room, so make sure to create a varied agenda that will keep the pace. We’d suggest sessions no longer than 2 hours, with a 10-minute break every 45 minutes or so, to allow for leg stretching and comfort breaks. You’ll find you get much higher engagement for it.
2) Make it collaborative
A varied mixture of interactive exercises not only keep the pace, but entice attendees to contribute. Mix up your activities between individual contribution, group discussions and interactive polls.
3) Be ultra organised
As with any meeting, share your agenda and access details well in advance. Spending a little extra time planning a remote session is essential; think about how you’ll engage all attendees, when comfort breaks will be needed, etc.
4) Have a dedicated tech support lead
On hand to support with any bugs or technical issues that might occur during the workshop.
5) Allow attendees to learn the format
It can take a few minutes to get to grips with using a new tool, so have your tech support lead talk through the basics and allow the workshop attendees to spend five minutes exploring and testing how to use it. A test exercise asking each attendee to say ‘hi, it’s XXX!’ via the tool has worked well for us.
6) Have a backup plan
Leading on from being organised, it’s crucial to have a backup plan, as we all know technology can have its occasional hiccup. We prepared a backup Keynote deck, in case we needed to take the workshop onto screen share with a chat function.
7) Test, test, test
Rope your colleagues in to test the workshop session ahead of time, to pick up on any bugs or potential issues. In our internal test, we learnt that you need to lock boards to ensure participants don’t accidentally move key elements on the slide!
8) Have fun with it!
A lot of our clients are also working from home, and amongst the chaos and uncertainty, it’s been wonderful to see and speak to them on video chats. Interactive workshops allow us to continue being productive, whilst also enjoying being creative and doing something a little different with our days. Think outside the box when creating your sessions, and if in doubt, there are some interesting preset Mural designs to help inspire.
9) Be comfortable with silence
You need to get comfortable with silence, as sometimes people pause and think before they answer. Allowing yourself to be OK with this will allow people the space to think.
10) Present with even more energy
Make sure the presenter brings a lot of energy to the presentation. Without visual facial stimulus, participants would quickly lose energy and enthusiasm listening to a monotone voice – so overdo it a little on the energy side!
With remote working a reality for many of us, it’s crucial to think outside the box and be adaptable in the ways we communicate. Things might not always go quite to plan, but from challenging times comes creativity and innovation – and we’ll certainly find some new communication practices that will far outlast the current crisis.