Creating Fabulous Online Workshops

- Remote Working

by Nagesh Sharma a Management 3.0 Facilitator

This is the second article in a three part series by Nagesh on leading a virtual class like a pro. Check out part one here.

In addition to the importance of having a great technical set up for online workshops, is the need to focus on self care.

Three Tips for practicing self care in the virtual age include…

#1: I keep a picture of my family in front of my desk, as they give me a lot of strength and motivation.

#2: I keep a few of my favorite books on the desk, that I can have a quick look.

#3: I put a small basket with some snacks and a water bottle on the desk, to ensure I don’t forget small bites and hydration.

What does a workshop look like?

During the prep session with the class participants they have already become familiar with the video conferencing and whiteboard tools. We use Zoom for video conferencing and Mural for whiteboard and collaborative exercises.

Typically, the 2-day in person session is spread across three virtual days so that the participants don’t get exhausted sitting in front of their machines for hours. A day would typically consist of 4-5 hours with a 10-15 min break every 60-90 minutes, depending on the energy levels of the participants.

There is an optional followup session for questions and clarifications on the application of the practices and concepts learned during the virtual class.

All my in person classes follow the same format: 6 Trumps and a 4c’s map from: “Training from the back of the room”.

I always try and keep my virtual classes as close as possible to the Face-to-Face experience, so let’s look through the design of a virtual class. Firstly, it’s important to note:


Link learners to learners and learners to the topic

The First ‘C’: Connections


#1: Adapt connections for a virtual setting. This is no different to a physical class, except participants, instead of moving and posting on flip charts, will be moving into breakout rooms and posting their ideas on mural/whiteboards

Some of the popular ways of connecting in a physical class are table talk, data hunt, think & write and standing survey. I’ve adapted table talks to zoom breakout talks and data hunt to review other teams’ findings and sharing within the group.

Think & write as you would think and post on a Mural. We don’t have to use all of the ideas, if we can leverage 1-2 tools, that serves the purpose then its great.

#2: Effectively create and recreate breakout rooms: Breakout rooms are key in running a successful live virtual class. Having a Co-host is helpful with a larger audience. As a facilitator, visiting all the breakout rooms is a good tactic, as it gives your participants the feeling that you genuinely care for them. In case they have questions or clarifications, you can also help. Sometimes it can be tiring for the facilitator and hence have a co-facilitator is recommended

#3: Lead with questions: Before beginning a topic I ask questions that will take the participants through a discovery process.

For example:

  • What are the similarities between Scrum and a Rugby/Football game?
  • If we say Scrum is like Chess, what is common between them?
  • How can you help others get the most of these three days?

#4: Adapt Liberating Structures for virtual settings: Connection activities can be done using liberating structures to co-create more engagement(1-2-4-all or 1-2-all or 1-4-all) . For one minute they think and then I put them into breakout rooms where together they can discuss and post their stickies on the Mural or whiteboard. Post breakout we will typically have a small debrief.

#5: Using props: All these conversations are guided by a timer. Time box is much more important in a virtual class. I use the inbuilt mural timer as well as a physical timer. Once the time box expires I will ring the small bell.

Stay tuned, we will continue delving into the 4C’s approach in the third part of this series, coming soon!

Photo credit Marvin Meyer via Unsplash

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