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How to make the most of your team’s remote workshops

If you’ve got a new remote workshop coming up or you just want to get better at the one's you already deliver, the following five tips can help!


Think back to this time last year. The thought of operating – and surviving – as a remote team for the best part of 12 months probably seemed like an absurd concept. But we’re months into the pandemic and while there is hope on the horizon, there’s also a strong chance we’ll be working in a socially distanced way for a good while yet. 

You’ve probably been meeting remotely with your team for months, settled into a groove and worked together to function well from geographically separate spaces. But when it comes to remote workshops it can be tricky.  They can sap time and energy and without the right focus they can end without productivity.

But remote workshops can be enjoyable, productive, and efficient. If you’ve got a new one coming up or you just want to get better at the workshops you already deliver, the following five tips can help;

Schedule short, punchy online sessions

It’s hard to focus on a remote workshop for a long period of time. Plan the whole day in small chunks, so people continue to stay focused and tuned in to what’s happening to avoid wandering minds.

Make sure you have clear milestones throughout and well defined outputs. Make it clear to all participants when they will be expected to contribute. You can always return to topics or activities on multiple days or at later times if they need more attention or work.

Allow time for breakout groups

Large group discussions and meetings are great for sharing information face-to-face bit on Zoom, it’s tough, really tough. One way to create greater more spaces is to use regular breakout groups where smaller groups of people engage in discussions and then return to the bigger group to report on the findings or results of their talks. Smaller units help to ensure people feel engaged with others and gives everyone an opportunity to have their voice heard. It can also break up the monotony of sitting in front of a screen for an extended period.

Schedule multiple days of shorter workshops

One way to manage time and attention effectively is to shorten each workshop session and lengthen the span of days the workshop takes. So, for example, instead of having an all day, 8-hour workshop, consider having 4-hour workshops 2 days in a row. This is a good way to maximise attention and ensure everyone remains engaged throughout.

Call on participants by name

We’ve all been on chaotic video calls, where people talk over others, internet lag makes conversations stilted and you leave feeling unfulfilled and frustrated. One simple tweak is this; when you’re posing a question to the group, direct it to an individual instead, i.e. “Jeff, what are your thoughts?” rather than, “Does anyone have any thoughts?” this will avoid the slight pause before multiple people talk over each other and then stop before repeating this causing chaos and wasting time.

Embrace digital tools

If you’re taking workshops online there are lots of tech tools that can make it easier and more effective. We love Miro, but there are loads of options. It’s basically Google sheets but in whiteboard format, a large space where everyone can contribute in real time. It’s collaborative and you can make heaps of progress, you can invite externals to join you & contribute and save all your spaces out as you go.

No one knows what the future holds, and even when the pandemic is over being able to deliver engaging and productive online workshops will be a useful resource for internal and external collaboration. Continuing to work out how you can get the best from the team’s time, energy and focus in a digital world will only not only engage your team in a more dynamic way but you’ll also create better results for your clients too.