5 Top Tips for Facilitating Online Workshops

 

Many of us now facilitate workshops remotely.  Whilst many of the principals are the same as ‘in the room’ workshops, there are a few additional considerations to think about to ensure successful outcomes.  Here are our top 5 tips:

 

 (1) Prepare your technology:

Preparing your technology is crucial when hosting an online workshop because technical difficulties can be frustrating for both you and your participants. Here are some steps you can take to ensure everything is working smoothly:

  • Test your equipment:

Test your microphone, speakers, camera, and any other equipment you will be using for the workshop. Make sure everything is working properly and that you know how to use it.

  • Check your internet connection:

Make sure your internet connection is stable and strong enough to handle the video conferencing software you will be using. You may want to consider using a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi to ensure a more stable connection.

  • Familiarise yourself with the software or platform:

If you’re using video conferencing software or an online platform, make sure you’re familiar with all the features and tools you’ll be using. This will help you avoid any confusion or technical difficulties during the workshop.

  • Have a backup plan:

Despite your best efforts, technical difficulties can still happen. Have a backup plan in place in case something goes wrong. This could mean having a second device available or having a phone number participants can call if they’re having trouble with the software.

By taking these steps, you can ensure that your online workshop runs smoothly and that your participants have a positive experience.

 

(2) Create an engaging agenda:

When creating an engaging agenda for an online workshop, it’s important to keep in mind that participants may have shorter attention spans than they would in an in-person workshop. Here are some tips to create an agenda that keeps participants interested and engaged:

  • Break the workshop into shorter segments:

Rather than having one long session, consider breaking the workshop into shorter segments, each with its own topic and objectives. This will help keep participants engaged and focused.

  • Incorporate interactive activities:

Include activities that encourage participants to engage with the content, such as polls, quizzes, or group discussions. This will help participants stay engaged and retain information.

  • Use visual aids:

Use visual aids such as slides, images, or videos to help illustrate your points and keep participants engaged.

  • Provide breaks:

Allow for short breaks in between segments to give participants time to rest and recharge.

  • Plan for variety:

Plan for a variety of activities and topics throughout the workshop to keep participants interested and engaged. This could include individual exercises, group discussions, or interactive games.

  • Set clear objectives:

Make sure that each segment of the workshop has clear objectives and outcomes, so participants know what they are expected to achieve.

  • Be flexible:

Be prepared to adapt the agenda if needed, based on participant engagement and feedback.

By incorporating these tips into your online workshop agenda, you can create an engaging and effective learning experience for your participants.

 

(3) Encourage participation:

Encourage participants to interact and participate in the workshop by asking questions, sharing their thoughts and opinions, and participating in group activities. Use tools such as polling or chat features to get everyone involved and engaged.  Here are a few tips to help you to encourage participation:

  • Use icebreakers:

Start the workshop with an icebreaker activity that gets participants engaged and interacting with each other. This can help break the ice and make everyone feel more comfortable participating throughout the workshop.

  • Use polls and surveys:

Use online polling and survey tools to gather feedback and opinions from participants. This can help keep participants engaged and can also provide valuable insights for you as the facilitator.

  • Encourage questions:

Encourage participants to ask questions throughout the workshop. This can help clarify concepts and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

  • Use breakout rooms:

Breakout rooms are a great way to encourage small group discussions and collaboration. This can help participants feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas.

  • Use chat features:

Many online platforms have chat features that allow participants to communicate with each other and with the facilitator. Encourage participants to use these features to ask questions, share their thoughts and ideas, and interact with each other.

By incorporating these strategies, you can help create an engaging and interactive online workshop that encourages participation and collaboration among participants.

 

(4) Provide clear instructions:

Provide clear instructions for all activities and exercises, and make sure participants understand what is expected of them. Make sure you are available to answer any questions participants may have. Here are some tips for ensuring that your instructions are clear and effective:

  • Be concise:

Keep your instructions short and to the point. Avoid using long sentences or complicated language, as this can be confusing.

  • Use visuals:

Whenever possible, use visuals such as diagrams, screenshots, or videos to illustrate your instructions. Visuals can be particularly helpful for demonstrating complex processes or procedures.

  • Repeat important information:

Repeat important information, such as deadlines or key steps, multiple times throughout the workshop. This will help ensure that participants remember what they need to do.

  • Use active voice:

Use active voice when giving instructions, as this is more direct and easier to understand than passive voice. For example, instead of saying “the document should be saved,” say “you should save the document.”

  • Check for understanding:

Periodically check for understanding throughout the workshop by asking participants to summarize what they need to do or by asking if they have any questions. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page.

By following these tips, you can help ensure that your participants understand what is expected of them and can fully engage in the workshop activities.

 

(5) Follow up with resources:

Providing resources after the online workshop helps participants continue learning and applying what they have learned. Here are some additional details on how to do this effectively:

  • Share workshop materials:

Share any slides, handouts, or other materials used during the workshop with participants. This will help them review and remember what they learned.

  • Provide links to relevant resources:

Share links to articles, videos, or other resources that expand on the topics covered during the workshop. This will help participants learn more and deepen their understanding of the subject matter.

  • Offer follow-up sessions or support:

Consider offering follow-up sessions or additional support to participants who want to continue learning or have questions after the workshop. This could be in the form of a Q&A session or one-on-one coaching.

  • Create a community or discussion forum:

Create a forum or community where participants can continue to discuss the topics covered during the workshop and share their experiences and insights with each other.

By providing these resources, you can help participants continue to learn and apply what they have learned beyond the workshop, and increase the overall impact of your online workshop.

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